“Welcome to NetPark at the heart of my constituency. A fitting venue for this conference, because it oozes optimism and confidence in the future, which I believe is at the heart of what we are to discuss today
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, sounds like a very esoteric concept, without wide appeal, but I know how important it is by the fact this conference is oversubscribed and reveals how central the issue of TTIP is to the North East business community.
We have representatives from the European Parliament Jude Kirton-Darling, Westminster John Healey MP chair of TTIP All Party Group, Neil Foster of the Northern TUC and Jim Neel, Economic officer U.S. embassy. They will give us a broad prospective on where we are with TTIP, what the issues are from a policy point of view and the partnerships potential for North East business.
And I know we can have a good discussion about many of the issues up for negotiation during the process of reaching agreement between the U.S. And EU.
I know there is a long way to go but I'd rather be at the table negotiating the deal rather than away from it.
That is why I have no hesitation in saying up front that Britain’s Role is as an active participant in the European Union to get the best deal for Britain, it's people and economy. Uncertainty on our position in Europe is not good for business.
I do not want to see the UK away from the negotiating table on such a potentially historic agreement as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
When I first thought of asking Business Durham and the North East Chamber of Commerce to organise this event, I did so because I believe the UK faces a choice on our place in the world.
Are we to be pessimistic and pull up the draw bridge on the rest of the world or are we to be optimistic and embrace the world with all its faults and try and change it. For me the UK must play an engaged role in the world because I'm an optimist. It is the best for our people to be outward looking; everyone loses if we believe we can stop the world because we want to get off.
So being an optimist, while facing the world with eyes wide open, means I know we need to belong to the EU, so that we can be part of a free trade area comparable with the United States.
We make the UK comparable with the U.S. and its economy by being part of the EU. We negotiate as equals!
And in principle if we agree with a free trade area in the EU we shouldn't be against, in principle, a free trade area which includes both the EU and the U.S.
Let's look in economic terms at what is at stake here.
- together the EU and the U.S. account for 47% of the world’s GDP.
- each day, goods and services of almost €2 billion are traded bilaterally, contributing to creating jobs and growth in our economies.
- aggregate investment stocks between the US and the EU is equivalent of €2 trillion.
- latest estimates show that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement between the EU and USA could bring overall annual gains of .5% increase in GDP for the EU, and .4% for the U.S.
- This is equivalent to €86 billion of added annual income for the EU and €65 billion of added income for the U.S. economy.
The economic potential for growth is huge and I want a bit of that for the North East.
As far as the UK is concerned
- with $1 trillion in investment and $214 billion each year in trade the UK-US economic relationship is one of the largest and most important anywhere.
- the U.S. and UK are each other's largest foreign investors
- the investment supports 1 million jobs in each country
- the government estimates that TTIP can boost the UK economy by as much as £10 billion each year.
As far as the North East is concerned
- £2.4billion of North East exports goes to the U.S., which is equivalent to 66% of all North East air freight.
- the North East Chamber of Commerce estimates 42% of its members want to export to the U.S. within 24 months.
So not to work towards a TTIP agreement, would be a major missed opportunity.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world which is getting smaller where the decision taken on the far side of the world can have major and positive repercussions for the North East.
The recent Hitachi Rail Europe’s decision to invest in the North East proves that.
And where the public and private sectors come together then facilities such as NetPark come to fruition, a facility that can benefit greatly from a TTIP agreement.
- NetPark employees 400+ jobs with a further 1000 in the supply chain. There are 23 companies here and 2 PLCs. A further 15 companies are waiting to gain access to the site.
- it's the only science park in the UK which has two catapult Centres: high value manufacturing and satellite applications.
- three national technology centres are to be built here
- the social impact of products developed here is huge. Polyphotonix has developed a sleep mask to cure diabetic retropathy a God send to type 2 diabetics like me. And it's estimated it'll save the NHS £1 billion a year.
- The next few years will see NetPark's growth accelerate.
I want to see thousands of people employed here, exporting from here.
I mention all of this about NetPark for personal reasons too and which have relevance today.
About half a mile to the North of hear lies Fishburn, where my dad worked down the pit for most of his working life.
I don't know how amazed he would be about his son addressing an audience if entrepreneurs and policy makers about the need for transatlantic trade, but I know he would be amazed by the kind of high tech, cutting edge, sophisticated jobs requiring a diverse spectrum of talents now on offer to local people who make the grade, where once the options in my father's day was to go down the pit or work on the farm. What we are discussing today nurtures aspiration and ambitions, which are the bedrock of my politics.
And that brings me back to the main point of my remarks and why this gathering is necessary
It's all about attitude and optimism.
The jobs here will only increase in number through public private partnerships, robust and confident enough to face an ever increasing competitive global economy, which needs to be harnessed for all the people.
TTIP allows us to raise the standards and cut tariffs to encourage trade.
Obviously there will be hurdles to overcome such as ISDS and public sector procurement, but it would seem that the NHS will be exempt from the TTIP provisions, however there is still a long way to go to ensure that is the case.
And I know we'll hear more about this, this morning. But for me, it isn’t over until it’s over and negotiation should press ahead.
It must be said we are in a period of negotiation and what I find exciting about all of this, is for the first time we can see on the horizon the possibility creating an economic environment in which half the world’s GDP and globalisation itself can be regulated with reduced tariffs but only with the highest standards on consumer affairs, financial services and labour laws.
All of this won't be achieved over night, and may be a long term ambition, but we need to start some where, and that some where, is in the North East in this room today.
So I say to you here today, push your policy makers to ensure the TTIP negotiations are a success so NetPark and places like it in the North East if England become a reality for as many people as possible.