By Ray Fleming

I t will not be possible to assess the outcome of the G8 meeting which ended yesterday afternoon, until the communique can be studied in some detail.
However, one positive result does seem to have been the agreement to press ahead with EU-US negotiations, on a far-reaching transatlantic trade deal. This plan to create the world's largest open trade area was launched earlier in the year but needed the endorsement of the G8 to give it impetus. The financial and trading benefits for individual countries in the EU and for the US will be considerable and on a smaller scale, they will spread to countries beyond.

As the World Trade Organisation has discovered agreements of this kind are difficult to reach, sometimes taking years; Mr Cameron's expectation that this one can be “wrapped up in 12 to 18 months” is very optimistic although, it is possible to see why he would like to achieve it.

The United States, has already warned that if Britain is not a member of the EU when the deal is signed, it will not be able to enjoy its benefits.
Both Mr Obama and Mr Cameron, have reasons to hurry; effectively the President's power will end in a little over three years and the Prime Minister faces an election and referendum in two to three.

On this issue, they are engaged in a race against time.