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Obama, TTIP and the State of the Union

President Obama gives his much anticipated State of the Union speech this week – following the Republican victory in the mid-terms. While many talk of Obama as a lame duck President, writes Iain Anderson,  there is some significant chance he may make his mark in his final stretch in office with a breakthrough on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

If achieved, TTIP would be a great deal for both sides of the pond and of course, it would be a fitting swansong for Obama’s second term in office. Whilst the Democrats have been desperately trying to block TTIP, with a Republican majority congress we may actually see much faster progress over the coming months.

There’s a good chance that during Obama’s final two years in office he will be determined to get an agreement on trade. Just as health was the signature reform for the end of his first term could trade could be the signature mark on his second?

In the US differences in opinion are stark, but here in the UK, the picture is slightly different with all of the main parties recognising the benefits of trade deals. Free trade is the major benefit of being part of Europe. Whilst the figures being bandied around on how much it would raise vary massively, even the harshest of critics admit that it would bring billions in additional revenue to the UK and Europe.

More than that getting TTIP through will be vital in dispelling some of the euro-scepticism so prevalent in the UK. In the UK, much of the debate on TTIP has centred around what should be in and out – one thing in my mind is for sure, financial services needs to be in. There are a lot of regulatory issues that would need to be ironed out – we wouldn’t want TTIP to become another layer of bureaucracy around the UK finance industry, but it is worth working hard to get TTIP right.

Financial services is the UK’s biggest industry, we need to do everything we can to open doors between our finance industry and the US.

Iain Anderson, is the Director and Chief Corporate Counsel of Cicero Group

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