Brown seeks transatlantic free trade

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown will urge the United States today to back plans for an agreement with Europe that would, in effect, create a transatlantic free trade area.

The Chancellor will use a speech in New York to call for a "new era of engagement" between the two economic superpowers. He believes that the European Union and the US should go into a new round of trade talks in November with a joint promise to reduce both areas' tariffs to zero.

Other areas where barriers could be removed would include: recognition of professional qualifications, common rules on competition, and regulation and elimination of obstacles to establishing companies on each other's markets.

"In forging this stronger economic relationship Britain can, and must, play a pivotal role," Mr Brown will tell the British-American Chamber of Commerce. "Britain does not have to choose between US and Europe, but is well-positioned as the vital link between the two."

The Chancellor will call for a study into the economic benefits of enhanced links, along the line of the Cecchini report into the European single markets.

Treasury officials said any agreement would have to be ratified as part of the World Trade Organisation's talks in Qatar this year. "This is about giving a kick-start to the multilateral talks, with the EU and US showing leadership," an official said.