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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

‘Everything on the table’ in US-Europe trade talks

WASHINGTON — British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and United States should cover all sectors and industry, drawing a stark contrast with France, which wants to leave out sensitive cultural industries.

“To realize the huge benefits this deal could bring will take ambition and political will. That means everything on the table, even the difficult issues, and no exceptions,” Cameron said at a White House press conference with President Barack Obama.

France last month threatened to block the proposed free trade talks unless cultural sectors, such as television and radio, were excluded from the agreement.

The European Parliament’s influential trade committee voted a week later to leave all of Europe’s cultural and audiovisual services out of the negotiations due to start in July, a decision that will shape the negotiating mandate to be agreed on by trade ministers from the EU’s 27 member states. Cameron’s comments may cause tension with his French counterpart, President François Hollande.

The Motion Picture Association of America, in comments filed last week with the US Trade Representative’s office, urged the United States not to agree to any “up-front, blanket sectoral exclusions,” but acknowledged EU sensitivities on the issue and said there were limits to what it expected from the talks.

“We recognize the importance of cultural diversity and the contribution the audio-visual sector makes to achieve that goal... We want, in particular, to make clear we are not calling into question existing EU or national financial support measures and mechanisms for the audio-visual sector,” the industry group said.

Britain is hosting the annual summit meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrial economies next month in Northern Ireland. That gives Cameron a high-profile platform to help shape the negotiating mandate for the talks with the United States and to shore up support in Britain for remaining in the EU. Germany, France and Italy are also members of the G8 along with Japan, Russia and Canada. The presidents of the European Commission and the European Council, two EU executive branch institutions, will also attend.

“President Obama and I have both championed a free trade deal between the European Union and the United States. And there’s a real chance now to get the process launched in time for the G-8. So, the next five weeks are crucial,” Cameron said yesterday.

Herald with Bloomberg, Reuters

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Tags:  UK  David Cameron  US  Europe  free trade agreement  





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