Essential we stay at the EU table, CBI South East boss Malcolm Hyde says
Britain's relationship with Europe will be a major theme of
In truth, it's not been a subject business has always been keen
to engage with, evoking as it does such staunchly entrenched
interests on all sides.
So some may have been surprised when our director general John
Cridland used his New Year message to call for a new trading
agreement between the European Union and the United States.
There shouldn't have been surprise – carving out a new trading
role in the world involves improving access to international
markets. And using the EU to do the heavy lifting is in our
long-term economic interest.
Home as it is for many companies with a US parent and so many
more who look directly to Europe and the US as the destination for
exports, for this corner of the UK the importance of Europe cannot
Securing ground-breaking free trade agreements must be a priority,
alongside eliminating tariffs, liberalising goods and services,
harmonising regulation, promoting investment and setting benchmark
standards for trade.
For example, while the EU and US have relatively open economies,
the transatlantic chemicals industry pays more than 500m euros in
Customs duties each year.
"Unseen" barriers such as these cost businesses across a range
of industries, impeding the level of trade possible for our
companies. One study identified up to 122bn Euros of potential
gains being possible for the EU every year, if those regulations
that could plausibly be aligned, were.
The UK must be present to push these trade talks to their
conclusion and for our businesses to use the EU as a launchpad to
project themselves globally and as a basis on which to attract
In rebalancing our economy towards greater exports, particularly
in fast-growing emerging economies, we must use our position in
Europe by first acknowledging we pack a bigger punch in securing
trade deals inside the EU than outside. Our trade partners want
access to a market of 500m customers across the EU, not just 60m on
our own shores.
The UK has ensured its values of free and open trade have been
at the heart of Europe over the last 40 years, helping to create
one of the biggest successes of the European Union – the Single
Market. It's essential for our region we stay at the table in