Cameron prepares to step up at G7 summit

British Prime Minister to express frustration over poor progress towards a multibillion-dollar trade between EU-U.S at G7 meeting

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron will use a meeting of the Group of Seven industrial nations to vent frustration at what he sees as poor progress towards a multibillion-dollar trade deal between the European Union and the United States.

Cameron, in bullish mood after winning re-election with a surprise majority last month, is expected to raise the issue in one-to-one talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday at the G7 and to join host Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, in pushing EU officials to speed negotiations.

His intervention would come after the EU's chief negotiator said in April that talks to clinch the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would stretch into 2016.

"We launched this at a G8 that was ours in Lough Erne in 2013," one British official told reporters. "That was over 700 days ago, and the prime minister feels we should be making swifter progress."

Cameron wanted a political deal by the year-end, the official said, warning the global cost of not getting one was about 630 million pounds ($962.01 million) daily.

Proponents say such a settlement could add $100 billion in annual economic output on both sides of the Atlantic.

The TTIP has faced opposition from protesters in Germany, however, and has also stumbled on U.S. demands for an investor protection clause.

Cameron, who has said he wants the G7 to use the scandal engulfing FIFA to focus on cracking down on corruption, will also warn the world must be much better prepared for a disease epidemic.

"The reality is that we will face an outbreak like Ebola again and that virus could be more aggressive and more difficult to contain," Cameron said on the eve of the summit. "It is time to wake-up to that threat."

He is expected to say Britain is ready to "lead the way" and work with the World Health Organisation to try to harness better global research, more drug development, and a faster and more comprehensive approach to fighting disease outbreaks.

He will announce a British programme to focus on the most threatening diseases, a requirement for UK-funded vaccine research to be shared globally, and the creation of a rapid reaction unit of specialists backed by a reserve force of doctors who can be dispatched to global disease hot spots.