Lady Barbara Judge CBE, chairman of the Institute of Directors, called on business leaders to fight the case for an ambitious EU-US trade deal and win over a sceptic general public across Europe, at the IoD City of London Annual Mansion House dinner last night [6 July 2015].
Addressing the Lord Mayor of London and the IoD City of London branch at the Mansion House, Lady Judge argued that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently being negotiated between the EU and US, is “in jeopardy” and called on business leaders to make the case for free trade loud and clear.
Lady Judge said:
“I am deeply concerned that we are losing the battle on one of the central planks of western liberal democracy – that is free trade. If you, like me, believe that the free flow of goods, capital and people has been proven to be the most successful route to increasing human prosperity, then you too should be concerned.
“I have seen first-hand how a more open and interconnected world brings prosperity and opportunity. Europe and the United States have a history of cooperation, and of shared values and goals. TTIP offers an opportunity to continue this into the future and ensure that Europe remains relevant and competitive.
“The benefits of TTIP are not about abstractions. They are about making it easier for companies, particularly small ones, to sell their goods and services in many new markets, to give consumers more, and cheaper, choices.
“I believe that we must fight to win public support for this vital trade deal.”
At a time when Europe is struggling for growth, Lady Judge will urge business leaders across the continent to rally behind the trade deal which “offers an economic opportunity to a continent which is desperately in need of one”.
TTIP seeks to cut the remaining barriers to trade between EU members and the United States by stripping away tariffs and harmonising regulations. However, the trade deal has proved controversial with some sections of the public, and in March 2015, an EU-wide survey found that the UK were evenly split on whether they thought TTIP was a good thing, while in Germany and France, more people view it negatively than positively.
In a survey of IoD members, conducted in late 2014, nine in ten business leaders said they supported the trade deal.