- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 16, 2013

Though it could be overshadowed by the conflict in Syria, leaders from the world’s major industrial nations plan to discuss how they can boost economic growth and regain competitiveness during the Group of Eight summit this week.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting the two-day meeting at a resort in Northern Ireland, has said his priorities are to discuss trade, tax compliance and transparency issues with his peers from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan.

After the summit, Mr. Obama plans to travel to Germany, where he will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel to continue economic discussions.

“Trade is key to economic growth and job creation,” Mr. Cameron’s office said in a statement. “But in late 2008, global trade saw its steepest fall since the Great Depression. More than four years on, trade has still not fully recovered.”

With two big trade deals in the making, this may be the most “workable” topic for the Obama administration, analysts say, as the United States prepares to begin talks with the European Union in the coming weeks and hopes to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a handful of Asian nations by the end of the year.

The European Union and U.S. plan to start discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership soon, and it could be completed by the end of 2014. It would further open up markets in the 27-nation bloc.

If completed, the agreement with the EU could create millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and add more than $100 billion to the U.S. economy, and more than $130 billion to the European economies, according to Mr. Cameron’s office, as well as add nearly $115 billion to the rest of the world’s gross domestic product.

The U.S. is also negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japan recently joined, a move that would give the pact more clout by adding the world’s third-largest economy. The trade deal is still on target to be completed by the end of the year.

Besides its deal with the U.S., the EU is also negotiating separate trade deals with Canada and Japan.

According to Mr. Cameron’s office, the world’s economy could grow by $1 trillion if the G-8 countries complete all of their current and proposed trade deals.

Many European economies, which were on the verge of collapsing at this time last year because of sovereign debt issues, have stepped up their performance and received more time to make good on their debts.

Leaders hope these deals will help many European countries that continue to struggle with growth — the eurozone economy shrank in the first quarter of 2013, its sixth straight quarterly decline. Unemployment in the 17 European Union countries that use the euro stands at 12.2 percent, with figures of around 27 percent in the worst-hit economies of Spain and Greece.

Mr. Cameron also would like to address the problem of tax evasion, which costs governments more than $3 trillion worldwide each year, according to the Tax Justice Network.

“He will argue that there is no point in dealing with tax evasion in one country, if the problem is simply displaced to another,” according to a government statement.

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