TTIP: what’s really in it for businesses?

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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the biggest political decisions of this European political term. A free trade agreement between the world’s two largest economies has the potential to provide clear positive effects to the world economy.

Beyond political discussions, businesses of all sizes will face both opportunities and challenges in their day-to-day activities and operations.

EURACTIV Institute organised a high-level debate, with the support of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, to discuss how TTIP, an ambitious agreement between the EU and the US, would affect companies of different sizes, from different industries and countries.

Read the full programme here and the transcript of the video below, with highlights from the panel speakers:

Carola Lemne, Director General, Swedish Enterprise: “This is incredibly important to Europe – it might be our last chance of putting standards together with the US instead of letting China do it. So get together and get it done.”

Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, European Commission: “TTIP is very important. It’s about facilitating trade with our most important trading partner today, doing away with obstacles, facilitating things for small and medium sized companies – but also the importance of us sitting together and forming the rules of globalisation. Today in Europe, 31 million people are employed because of exports.  We actually want to focus on that – we agree with the Americans – on small and medium sized companies. Big companies have bigger budgets – they have people who can deal with rules, they have resources. But the small ones don’t.”

Carola Lemne, Director General, Swedish Enterprise: “Specifically, this is extra good for small and medium-sized companies because to them the tariffs can be really punishing – they can’t open a branch somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic. The red tape is impossible for them to deal with and they just stay out and miss growth opportunities; we miss more jobs in Europe. We have experience in this in Sweden – we opened up early, we have had a very free trade nation. Although there have been areas that have been hit, the net sum has always been better.”

David Martin MEP, INTA Committee member and S&D group Trade Spokesperson: “We’re only interested in what we call a progressive TTIP. So we want to ensure that regulatory cooperation is at the highest level – it’s not downward cooperation – that public services are excluded from any trade deal and that we have a strong trade and sustainable development chapter – in other words, high labour and environmental standards in such an agreement.”

Jacques Pelkmans, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS: “The regulatory cooperation – both horizontally and in the sectors, particularly in services – must be pushed with all our willpower. The main ideas like ISDS and lowering of what they call standards, but which are in fact objectives, in health and safety are like this: ISDS has been pushed aside, for some never enough, but it’s something that I don’t think has to be an obstacle. The other is a myth.

Ulrike Rabmer-Koller, President, UEAPME: “The most important thing really is that negotiations are very transparent and not only transparency in the documents. There shall be transparency also in what is actually the advantage of TTIP, especially for SMEs and the European economy. We are on one hand in favour of negotiations, but we have to make sure that European standards are really kept as they are.”

David Martin MEP: “We have to be better at communicating the advantages of TTIP, because quite simply the old adage ‘the devil has the best tunes’ applies here. It’s very easy to exaggerate the impact of some of the changes. At the moment, I have to be honest, we are losing the public. And it’s a battle that we need to engage in to win them back. The battle needs to be fought frankly on both sides of the Atlantic, not just on this side.”

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