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Business

Britain and U.S. Pledge to Avert Trade War

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow announced on Tuesday that the row over steel tariffs would not stop the two countries forging a new trade partnership.

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Gordon Brown paves the way for smooth trade negotiations between Tony Blair and George W. Bush.

In a speech held just hours before President George W. Bush flies into Britain for a three-day state visit, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and his American counterpart, Treasury Secretary John Snow, have pledged to work together to defuse mounting tensions over a possible trade war.

With the specter of Washington’s decision to impose tariffs on steel imports into the U.S. looming over the president’s scheduled talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair later this week, Brown warned of a possible retaliatory trade conflict between the U.S. and the EU that could cut economic growth in Europe and limit job creation.

“We know that damaging trade and regulatory disputes between Europe and the USA have hindered commerce and damaged transatlantic relations,” Brown told business leaders at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in Birmingham. “It is time now for us all to make the effort to move beyond them.”

No tit-for-tat war

"It would be extremely unfortunate if we got to a tit-for-tat protectionist war between trading partners that should recognize the benefits of our working together."

Stahlröhre auf Halde

Steel will not divide the trade partners, says Brown.

Brown’s comments were a thinly veiled dig at the European Union, which is considering retaliatory measures after the World Trade Organization declared the imposition of the U.S. steel tariffs illegal, saying that they broke international trade rules.

And as if to pave the way for smooth negotiations once President Bush arrives in London, the Chancellor announced a new study of how the United States and Europe could further reduce trade barriers. Brown told the CBI delegates that economic expansion through free trade and free markets was the key to growth and prosperity and added that a new study would outline benefits of fairer trade between the two countries which could be applied to a wider sphere.

Review of transatlantic business

Brown told the conference that the “major transatlantic review” would show that liberalization, the removal of tariff and other barriers, and agreed approaches to competition and regulation could increase trade and investment between Britain and the U.S., resulting in up to $100 billion (€84.9 billion) and an additional one million jobs.

The Chancellor also outlined a series of measures that included more projects between research and education institutions; scholarships for management studies in both countries; and a joint forum next year to discuss productivity in both U.S. and U.K. business sectors.

Brown said that despite the steel row, Britain continues to value its relationship with the United States. "It is a reflection of our shared values that we are deepening our relationships today," he said.

In remarks that seemed directed at Britain's soon-to-arrive guest, George W. Bush, Brown then added: “With shared values we must also meet a shared threat. As Tony Blair said yesterday (Monday), it has fallen to this generation -- the generation who were born or grew up at a time when Britain and America had together fought World War II -- to fight global terrorism and rogue states.”

Snow says smoldering trade row extinguished

John Snow auf dem Weg nach Japan und China

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow.

Echoing Brown’s statements that Britain and the U.S. share a common belief in liberty and opportunity, the work ethic and enterprise, and a commitment to openness rather than isolationism, U.S. Trade Secretary Snow told the conference that he had "thrown cold water" on the idea of a trade war.

But while Gordon Brown had subtly disguised his EU rebuke, John Snow delivered a message that was loud and clear. While addressing the subject of the America's recovering economy and U.K. economic growth, Snow turned his eyes to Europe and the Far East.

"As we look at the global economy today, it is hard to escape the conclusion that growth has been far too uneven - particularly in the largest industrial nations," he said.

He added: "Britain has demonstrated consistent growth, but the other major world economies - particularly Japan, Germany and France, are operating well below their potential."

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