What will an EU-US trade deal mean for UK SMEs?
As Brussels and Washington embark on historic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, Bdaily asked Jeffries Briginshaw, managing director of BritishAmerican Business in London, what it would mean for UK SMEs
Could you briefly outline what BritishAmerican Business does?
BritishAmerican Business is a leading transatlantic business organization, dedicated to helping companies build their business on both sides of the Atlantic through our event programme and policy work. In particular, we have been very active in promoting the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), including a nationwide series of roadshows across the UK in collaboration with a broad range of business groups. Our aim is to reach out beyond the traditional policy community in London, with particular emphasis on SMEs. In London, we have held high level policy round tables on TTIP and we are also providing the Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on EU-US Trade and Investment.
What opportunities could the US-EU trade negotiations yield for British SMEs?
Both the EU and the US have recognized that SMEs are playing an increasingly important role in our economies in fostering innovation and creating job opportunities. In the TTIP negotiations both parties have agreed to look at specific measures to enable SMEs to prosper and expand. Many SMEs are challenged in grasping transatlantic trade possibilities.
These challenges are in large part connected to different regulatory requirements which SMEs struggle with more than larger corporations who have dedicated personnel to deal with approval processes, labelling requirements, testing requirements and the like. TTIP will attempt to streamline such requirements where possible in order to facilitate trade.
What should SMEs pay attention to in the coverage of the talks?
Depending on the sectors SMEs are engaged in they should follow developments relating to the removal of tariffs in areas where they have a trade interest and in the developments in regulatory coherence. SMEs should also pay attention to how future support schemes for SMEs will be regulated.
What dangers could a successful TTIP bring for UK SMEs?
TTIP will first and foremost bring opportunities for SMEs. If SMEs are in a protected market and unable to cope with competition, attention should be paid to the challenges new entrants to a protected market may bring.
When are the talks likely to be concluded?
The goal is to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2014, yet most commentators expect them to continue into early 2015. After agreement a period of ratification will follow - normally around 18 months. Many of the tangible benefits of an agreement in terms of removal of barriers will thus not take effect before 2016. The process of negotiation is, however, already leading to increased cooperation between the EU and the US and a resurgence of business confidence in many areas.
For more information, please visit BritishAmerican Business’s Trade and Investment site, join their TTIP LinkedIn group or follow them on Twitter @bablondon #BABTTIP