Moves to establish a free trade agreement between the European Union and the US will take a step forward later this week when the European Parliament is set to agree a resolution giving a mandate for detailed negotiations to begin.
With an estimated extra €119bn per year for EU Member States at stake should a final deal be reached by the EU and US, Welsh Labour MEP, DEREK VAUGHAN believes that the vote, which takes place on Thursday (22 May 2013), could prove crucial in providing new opportunities for Welsh businesses.
Speaking ahead of the vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Vaughan commented:
"An agreement between both sides would create the biggest trading area in the world and the chance to add around 0.5% to the EU’s total GDP. It would be worth around £10bn to the UK economy each year, opening up new markets to Welsh businesses and giving a vital stimulus to job creation at a time when we need it most.
The vote is only the beginning of a long and complex process but if the two sides can remove unnecessary barriers to trade then a deal would support Welsh exports, support Welsh jobs and help to develop our economy even further. "By being part of a larger, stronger organisation such as the EU, our bargaining power is greatly enhanced compared to the position we would be in if seeking to negotiate on our own.
It is an ambitious agenda that will also need to take into account issues such as retaining workers’ and environmental rights, data protection, intellectual property standards and food safety safeguards to name but a few but it is one that needs to be if we are to achieve the necessary transformation on either side of the Atlantic."
If, as expected, the resolution is approved on Thursday, talks between the EU and US on the agreement will begin in June. Any deal will require the consent of the European Parliament before it can come into force.