Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Cameron pushes US and EU free trade zone plan up G8 agenda

President Barack Obama is set to meet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and urge them to consolidate gains by working harder on community relations.  (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
President Barack Obama is set to meet First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and urge them to consolidate gains by working harder on community relations. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Prime Minister David Cameron with Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson. Photo by Will Oliver/PA Wire
Protesters from Amnesty International dressed in orange jump suits and masks hold placards demanding that Barack Obama, closes Guantanamo, as they congregate outside the Waterfront, Belfast, ahead of the G8 summit. Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Protesters from Amnesty International dressed in orange jump suits and masks hold placards demanding that Barack Obama, closes Guantanamo, as they congregate outside the Waterfront, Belfast, ahead of the G8 summit. Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Wire
US President Barack Obama holds a baby at a Father's Day luncheon to celebrate the importance of strong families and mentorship in the State Dining Room of the White House. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Anti G8 protesters set up camp in Enniskillen town centre. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Police officers including members of the PSNI undergo riot training and the use of dogs at Longmoor Army Camp. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
A woman walks past a derelict shop, its windows covered in giant posters to make it look like a deli store, in Fivemiletown, Northern Ireland. Organizers of the G8 have spent weeks sprucing up the facades of businesses all around the County Fermanagh venue. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Enniskillen Town Centre gets a face lift ahead of the G8. By John McVitty
A woman walks past a derelict shop, its windows covered in giant posters to make it look like a cafe, in Enniskillen. Organizers have spent weeks sprucing up the facades of businesses all around the County Fermanagh venue.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Temporary cell blocks which have been built at Omagh police station in Co Tyrone, which are being made available for G8 summit protests. By Paul Faith/PA Wire
Temporary cell blocks which have been built at Omagh police station in Co Tyrone, which are being made available for G8 summit protests. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Perspex on the windows at Belfast City Hall ahead of the G8 that will take place next week at Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Lough Erne Golf Resort of hotel manager Ferghal Purcell in one of the plush rooms that will host the world leaders. Cliff Donaldson/Lough Erne Golf Resort/PA Wire
Chefs at Fermanagh's Lough Erne Resort have been working on the G8 menus for four months. Local delicacies will include yellowman ice-cream with a dulse garnish, Toomebridge eels with a sweet red onion marmalade and, of course, the Ulster fry with black and white pudding.
Razor wire which has been laid in fields near the Lough Erne resort in County Fermanagh
Theresa Villiers MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, observes the final G8 security arrangements at the Lough Erne resort, with Chief Inspector Sue Ann Steen. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Police man a checkpoint at the entrance to Lough Erne Hotel resort. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Divers check water features in fields near Lough Erne Hotel. Paul Faith/PA Wire
PSNI officers patroling on Lough Erne ahead of the G8 Summit. By John McVitty.
An anti-G8 mural unveiling at the back of Free Derry Corner. By John Black
The launch of the 'Big IF Belfast' concert at Botanic Gardens. The IF campaign will call on the world's most powerful leaders to ensure the eradication of world hunger is top of the agenda. Photo: Neil Harrison
The new banner unveiled for the G8 protest at Belfast City Hall organised by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
BBC journalist,Chris Buckler films a segment to promote Fermanagh on BBC Breakfast. Interviewing Lough Erne Resorts Head Chef, Noel McMeel and General Manager, Ferghal Purcell. Photo by Raymond Humphreys
Local artist Peter Meanley and the Ulster Museum's Curator of Applied Art Elise Taylor admire the eight bespoke Toby jugs of the G8 leaders. The jugs took 5 months to create and are currently on display at the Ulster Museum. Photographer Brian Thompson / presseye.com
A car makes its way along a security fence erected around the G8 venue
Police officers including members of the PSNI undergo riot training including the use of a water cannon at Longmoor Army Camp
Oxfam's 'Big Head' G8 leaders arrive in Northern Ireland
Oxfam's 'Big Head' G8 leaders arrive in Northern Ireland
Security in fields near the Lough Erne resort
A ring of steel is erected on the A46 Lough Shore Road in preparation
Police officers including members of the PSNI undergo riot training including the use of dog handlers at Longmoor Army Camp
A water Cannon leaves a security check point near the Lough Erne resort
Belfast's M2 and Oxford Street in the city centre will be shut at rush hour on Monday, June 17 for Barack Obama's welcome visit.
Toyoshige Sekiguchi, the anti-capitalist Buddhist monk who has walked from Belfast to Enniskillen to bring his campaign for nuclear disarmament to the G8 leaders
Armed police guard McDonalds, a previous target for G8 protestors as thousands protest in Belfast against the G8 summit. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
G8 protester Ziggy believes many protesters have been put off travelling to Northern Ireland
G8 protester Andrew Carnegie with his dog Grace
Armed PSNI officers alongside officers from police forces around the UK stand guard in the fields over looking the Lough Erne resort, Enniskillen. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
PSNI officers alongside officers from police forces around the UK stand guard in Enniskillen town. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Armed police guard McDonalds, a previous target for G8 protestors as thousands protest in Belfast against the G8 summit. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
An anti-fracking boat pictured on Lough Erne. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
G8 protesters Darren Carnegie(left) and his father Andrew from Glasgow pictured in Enniskillen town centre. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Police stand on a bridge over the River Erne near the location of the G8 summit on June 16, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 group of world leaders will meet tomorrow in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A police patrol boat passes under a police vehicle on a bridge over the River Erne near the location of the G8 summit on June 16, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 group of world leaders will meet tomorrow in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A police officer patrols near to the location of the G8 summit on June 16, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The G8 group of world leaders will meet tomorrow in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

David Cameron is today hoping to kick off the G8 summit in Northern Ireland with progress on a free trade deal between Europe and the US which he believes could "turbo-charge the transatlantic economy".

US President Barack Obama and European leaders are expected to launch formal negotiations on the pact - dubbed an "economic Nato" - which the Prime Minister believes could be worth £10 billion to the UK economy, or £380 for every British household.

But the summit in Lough Erne is set to be overshadowed by international tensions over Syria, after Russian President Vladimir Putin  made clear his continued opposition to Western countries arming rebels trying to oust Bashar Assad.

In a blunt warning after talks with Mr Cameron at 10 Downing Street, Mr Putin said the West should not arm insurgents who "eat the organs" of their enemies.

The brutal behaviour of some rebel groups was inconsistent with the "humanitarian and cultural values" of Europe, warned the Russian President, who defended his own supply of arms to the Assad regime.

Mr Obama - who will meet Mr Cameron ahead of the formal opening of the summit  - has indicated he is ready to send weapons to opposition fighters, after Assad crossed his "red line" by using chemical weapons on his own people.

Britain was a driving force behind scrapping the EU arms embargo, but Mr Cameron last night repeated that no decision has yet been taken for the UK to offer lethal assistance to opposition forces.

While acknowledging deep differences between Moscow and the West, the PM said the challenge at Lough Erne was to "focus on the common ground where we both want to see a peace process, a transition, take place".

Mr Putin agreed that the G8 gathering - which brings together leaders of the UK, US, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan - was one of the most appropriate forums for discussing a conflict "which can be resolved only by political and diplomatic means".

The situation in Syria will be discussed over a working dinner this evening.

But the first topic on the agenda as the summit opens amid high security will be the world economy.

As president of the G8 for the first time since Tony Blair hosted the Gleneagles summit in Scotland in 2005, the UK is seeking agreements on trade, tax evasion and financial transparency which Mr Cameron believes could "drive growth and prosperity all over the world".

Top of the agenda is the EU/US trade pact, which cleared its latest obstacle in last-minute talks on Friday, when Europeans agreed a "mandate" for their negotiators after delays caused by French insistence on protecting its film, TV and music industries from US imports.

The Prime Minister and Mr Obama will now meet EU members of the G8 - Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, French President Francois Hollande, Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta and the presidents of the European Commission and Council, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy - with the aim of waving the starting flag for formal negotiations to begin.

Spelling out what he sees as the potentially "transformative" value of the deal, Mr Cameron said: "An EU-US trade deal... could be worth £10 billion to the UK alone - in the end that's not some abstract statistic, these trade deals matter, because they mean more jobs, more choice for consumers and lower prices."

Tomorrow, attention will shift to counter-terrorism - including Mr Cameron's proposals for a block on states paying ransoms for their kidnapped citizens - and action against tax havens.

The Prime Minister's tax transparency agenda was boosted at the weekend when 10 British overseas territories and crown dependencies agreed to sign up to an OECD initiative to share information with international tax authorities about companies' and individual's offshore accounts.

Mr Cameron said the agreement would add momentum to the drive to get the G8 to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance by showing that Britain was "getting our own house in order".

Campaigners from development charities are trying to stoke up pressure on the world leaders to shine a light on the tax havens, which they believe are denying poor countries vital revenues running into billions of pounds.

Setting out his agenda for the two days of talks, Mr Cameron said he was "determined to use this opportunity to address some of the biggest issues facing our countries" and agree "practical action which will make a difference for our own peoples and for the wider world".

He said: "I want a meeting where we can look each other in the eye, cut through the obstacles and the opposition and generate the political will to solve the problems we face."

Hosting the summit in Northern Ireland, 15 years after the Good Friday Agreement, would "help inspire progress and dispel cynicism" by showing how even the most intractable problems can be addressed and resolved through political leadership and constructive dialogue, he said.

Economic recovery remains "the most important issue" facing G8 countries, with a need to create jobs and reduce poverty around the world, said Mr Cameron.

He made no apology for not putting aid at the centre of his agenda, as Mr Blair did at Gleneagles.

"We are leading a new approach that gets right to the causes of poverty, not the symptoms of the poverty," said Mr Cameron. "But I want to ensure that this a summit that brings together the developed and developing world and tackles issues relevant to us all."

 

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