Prime minister to meet new French president before two days of informal talks with world leaders at Camp David
David Cameron has flown to Washington for critical talks with world leaders, urging them to act urgently to boost world trade and describing trade deals as “the one big stimulus” that would make a real difference in lifting the world from recession.
He is due to join the leaders of the G8 at Camp David for two days of informal talks.
It will be the first world summit outing for the new French president, François Hollande, who has spoken of the need to stimulate demand.
Cameron’s remarks suggest the focus should be on launching EU trade deals next year with the US, Canada and Japan. He accepts that the idea of a world trade deal is dead in the water.
The prime minister is due to hold separate bilateral talks with Hollande at the British ambassador’s residence in Washington before flying to Camp David. They will focus on the euro and on Hollande’s commitment to remove all French combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, nearly two years ahead of the agreed Nato schedule.
It will be the first time the two men have met since Cameron backed Hollande’s rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, in the presidential election. Cameron refused to meet Hollande when he visited London during the campaign.
The French government is adamant that it is not in the mood to punish Cameron, and says the big defence and nuclear co-operation agreements signed between the two countries remain intact.
Cameron will press Hollande to clarify what he means in calling for a shift from austerity to growth. Cameron has been pressing for the development of eurobonds and a more interventionist role for the European Central Bank – proposals that find less favour in Germany than France.
In an article on PoliticsHome published before the summit, he writes: “The task now is to free ourselves from the baggage and bureaucracy of past summits and actually get things done … We must work together to give the world economy the one big stimulus that would really make a difference: an expansion of trade freedoms, breaking down the barriers to world trade and getting global trade moving again. Where there are coalitions of the willing, we need to seize the opportunities to forge ahead with ambitious deals.”
In a speech in Manchester on Thursday, Cameron called on the eurozone to take a leaf out of the UK’s book in order to overcome its crisis, insisting that the British economy was “moving in the right direction”.
The government’s austerity measures have been blamed by Labour for the UK suffering a double-dip recession, but the prime minister said the UK had achieved a balance between deficit reduction and growth that was lacking in the eurozone.
“Just as in Britain we need to deal with the deficit and restore competitiveness, so the same is true of Europe,” he said. “This is a debt crisis. And the deficits that caused those debts have to be dealt with. But growth in much of the eurozone has evaporated completely. Indeed, without the recent German growth figures, it would be in recession.”
In the absence of any progress on a new world trade round, Cameron will argue at the G8 that the central theme of the summit should be to apply measures that have already been agreed to help business across the world – for example, action to break down bureaucracy over getting goods across borders.
He will point out that trade deals between the EU and Japan and Canada could be worth £5.4bn a year to the UK alone. He is also expected to revive ideas for a US-EU trade deal, which he last raised when he met Barack Obama in the White House in March.
The British government points out that the EU and US account for almost a third of global trade, and 14m jobs on both sides of the Atlantic depend on transatlantic trade. Such a deal could potentially be bigger than all the other EU free trade agreements on the table combined, and early estimates are that it could be worth 2% to 3% of the EU and US combined GDP.
Pointing to the Arab spring and Burma, Cameron will also claim that the G8 has to do more to side with democratic movements, a commitment that will be easier to make in the absence of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, from the talks. Cameron claims: “The trend towards more open and accountable systems is clear. Those who deny this reality will end up on the wrong side of history. The G8 must continue to show real leadership and creativity in finding ways to support successful transitions.”
Talks with the Iranian government are due to restart next week, so the atmosphere of crisis around Iran’s nuclear ambitions will recede.
Cameron, who is due to take a lead role on redrawing the United Nations millennium development goals, also uses his article to call for a refocusing of international aid. He says there is a “golden thread of development: the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, the rights of individuals, a free media, free association, strong political parties and a proper, rich civil society. That means rooting out corruption, making sure people’s right to own land and property is protected, and promoting the rule of law so people know that contracts can be relied on.”