By Daniel Hunter
Kenneth Clarke, Minister without Portfolio and the Prime Minister’s trade envoy, highlighted the major boost to London’s economy that a future free trade agreement between the EU and the US might deliver.
A successful deal would break down barriers to trade between the economies of the European Union and the United States, save exporters millions of pounds, generate new jobs, and create a massive new marketplace representing 47% of the world’s output. Negotiations are expected to begin this summer — President Obama has said he hopes to conclude a deal within two years.
Mr Clarke’s comments come as new figures published by HM Revenue and Customs showed that exports were worth £8.881 billion to London between January and March 2013. It is forecast that the potential trade agreement, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, could help boost total exports for the UK as a whole by 1.3%, or around £19 billion. Today’s quarterly figures also show exports to the US alone are currently worth £957million to the capital.
One London company that is already benefitting from trade with the US is software specialist Rockshore who earlier this year won a six-figure contract to partner US telecommunications giant AT&T with help and support from government export experts UK Trade & Investment. Rockshore, with its HQ in Putney, deliver real-time operational intelligence to help global clients in telecommunications as well as aviation and rail.
This lucrative partnership working with AT&T is helping deliver annual growth of over 30 per cent for Rockshore, as well as leading to an increase in staff numbers from 30 to 50 employees. The deal is also fuelling the company’s expansion into new US offices with a lease now signed for premises in Princeton, New Jersey and generating significant investment in product development.
“Winning this partnership with such a large US company was a major success for our firm, as we are well on our way to our target of annual growth of over 30 per cent," Jon Slinn, Group CEO of Rockshore, commented.
"AT&T is a market leader in the United States which offers Rockshore a huge new market opportunity given we already work with Vodafone (the largest such group in Europe).
“We plan to invest further in the US by targeting 50 airports and three other telecommunications firms for sales of our real-time software. Our US office has a target to match the European business for revenue within the next three to five years."
Mr Clarke this week hosted a meeting of small businesses from around the country to hear directly from them what barriers they would like the trade deal to tear down.
“The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to boost the economies on both sides of the Atlantic by billions of pounds. This is manna from heaven for western economies looking for opportunities to stimulate growth," Kenneth Clarke said.
“The opportunities presented by this agreement for London could be extremely significant. As the latest quarterly figures show, exports to the US is currently worth £957m to London businesses. I want to make sure London’s small businesses benefit to the greatest possible extent, which is why I have spent this morning hearing what barriers they face in exporting to the US, and how we can ensure this trade deal tears them down.”