Connecting SMEs for a green economy

EU-US TTIP trade deal will benefit SMEs, says Commission report

Chris Hopkins's picture

A new European Commission report out this week claims that EU small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will have much to gain from the upcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty with the US.

The report presents the results of a 2014 survey of EU SMEs on the challenges they face when exporting to the United States, and reveals new data on the scale of exports by these SMEs to the US. Almost 900 companies from 25 member states were surveyed in total.

The report argues that SMEs are already big winners from transatlantic trade, but that the TTIP treaty offers "the best opportunity to reduce small companies’ costs and potentially open up for them new market possibilities".

150,000 EU SMEs exported to the United States in 2012, accounting for 28% of all EU-US exports, worth approximately €77 billion. SMEs in sectors linked to food, beverages & agriculture; clothing, textiles & leather; as well as chemicals had an above-average share of EU exports.

Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, responded to the report saying: "Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the European economy. These companies will channel the benefits of TTIP back to their local communities. That's why the EU and the US are working to deliver an ambitious agreement that meets their concerns. This report helps us do that, by pointing out the concrete obstacles and the problems that we have to solve. This is one of the issues to be discussed when our negotiators are meeting this week.”

The Commission argues that many of the difficulties faced by SMEs engaged in US exports could be eased by TTIP. The report highlights "compliance with technical rules and regulations" as the most frequently cited issue, with accessing regulation applicability information, being legally excluded from the market, compliance with customs rules, and differences in regulation between US states as other main SME concerns.

The regulatory aspect of TTIP, primarily addressing the above issues, is on the agenda for the 9th round of EU-US TTIP negotiations in New York this week.

But the TTIP deal is not without its detractors, with many EU states concerned that promised business cost-cutting and reductions in red-tape are just window dressing to cover some of the deal's more controversial elements. A potential weakening of EU environmental regulations, increased access for private US firms to EU public provision, and the implications of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism have all been raised as concerns by civil society groups.

But, what do you think about the TTIP deal?

Does it offer value and a stronger EU business environment to green SMEs, or are you concerned about a regulatory race to the bottom with the US?

Let us know in the comments below or in the GreenEcoNet Forum.

For more details and coverage of the TTIP SME report, see the EC press release here and this article in the Irish Times.