Caroline Spelman is the Member of Parliament for Meriden and is a former Environment Secretary
Hardly a week goes by in which I don’t see a huge car transporter making its way to Southampton docks from my constituency in the Midlands - the embodiment of our export-led recovery. Did you know that a white Range Rover is the chauffeured car of choice in emerging markets retaining at £200,00 a pop? The luxury brands are selling well, but so too are British-made mass volume cars and for the first time in a long time we are a net exporter of cars.These market opportunities could be greater still if a bi-lateral trade agreement could be struck between the US and the EU - as envisaged by David Cameron, who announced formal negotiations to reach one yesterday. The motor manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic can see huge advantages in mutual recognition of each other’s regulations, since this would save costly adaptation of models without compromising safety. A US-EU trade deal would account for over 50 per cent of global trade, and the significance of this is that we can then call the shots on standards.
This is incredibly important at a time when emerging markets are growing in significance because we need the global standards to be ours. The likelihood is that manufacturers like those in Japan would want to join our standards, and that is the way a global standard is born. That would give our industry a huge advantage, and enshrine the high standards we expect to protect motorists, their passengers and other road users. It would have been a triumph of global diplomacy if a global trade agreement had been achieved under the Doha round, but this proved just too big a mountain to climb in these difficult times.
So bi-lateral trade deals are second bes -, but one between the world’s two biggest trading blocks would be a very good second. It is estimated that an EU-U. trade agreement could be worth £19bn to the UK economy. The attraction to the US of accessing the EU’s 500m consumers on preferential terms is mirrored by the attraction to EU exporters of an American market of 316m consumers buoyed up by cheaper energy than ours. The political leaders see the opportunity, but Barack Obama has made it clear this deal needs to be done in timely fashion, and not drag on as Doha did.