Carola Lemne
Foto: Michael Chia

Carola Lemne presenting Swedish Enterprise’s view of TTIP in Brussels in front of 100 participants at an event organized by Euractiv.

TTIP – what’s really in it for businesses?

NEWS Published

FREE TRADE The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the biggest political decisions of this European political term. In order to discuss how this ambitious agreement between the EU and the US affect companies of different sizes and countries, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in partnership with EurActiv Institute, organized a seminar in Brussels. At the seminar, which gathered some 100 participants, contributed among others the European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and the Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Carola Lemne.

Carola Lemne SV

"It’s the small and medium sized companies, which have the most to win with an agreement", said Carola Lemne.

Foto: Michael Chia
Cecilia Malmström sv

"We hope to end the negotiations together with the Obama administration", said Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

Foto: Michael Chia

The European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström could open the seminar. She gave three examples where TTIP would make a difference.

– There are numerous examples where particularly small and medium sized companies would benefit substantially. With a successful TTIP we would get rid of regular tariffs, for companies in certain sectors as high as 18 percent; markets in the US, which are today restricted would open up for public procurement and with significantly better regulatory cooperation, for instance double standards and expensive double inspections would be avoided. In addition it’s important that EU and the US take the lead in setting the standards as global competition will continue with or without TTIP.

– People worry, but we have listened very carefully. Our process has been the most transparent free trade negotiation ever. We hope to end the negotiations together with the Obama administration. The European Commission have a mandate from member states to negotiate a deal, but we are not a campaign organisation. We can’t do the communication on our own. For that we need help from member states and businesses alike, to go out and show positive examples, she said.

Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise said in her intervention that Swedish Enterprise is strongly in favour of TTIP.

– Trade with the US isn’t just a concern for big companies, In fact. studies that we have conducted show that it’s the small and medium sized companies, which have the most to win with an agreement. More than two thirds of these companies are convinced that with an agreement they would increase exports to the US. Even if not everyone benefits all the time when markets are opened up, it’s clear that and agreement will benefit consumers, employees, business and society in general.

– We are committed to communicating the positive effects of a trade agreement. We want the agreement to strengthen our shared values and the principles we uphold on both sides of the Atlantic. A market economy, rule of law and free societies are part of this, but so are also high standards of protection of life and health, she underlined.

The President of the European small business federation UEAPME, Ulrike Rabmer-Koller said that among UEAPME:s 12 million member companies just one third is working internationally.

– TTIP would lead to more growth and jobs and small companies will also benefit, even if the sectors that benefit the most from an agreement appear not to be the same where we have the most SME:s. We have demanded a special chapter which covers the needs of SME:s, but small businesses needs have to be reflected in all areas, she said.

CEO and owner of Dienes Corporation, Bernd Supe-Dienes, active within the mechanical engineering industry, thought that without a TTIP European markets would be more fragmented and business relocated to outside Europe.

– We are producing industrial cutting tools. We have 450 employees and a 50 million euro annual turnover. We are selling all over the world. For us getting rid of the non-tariff barriers is crucial, particularly to harmonise technical standards. We have now a once in a lifetime opportunity. If we don’t do it with the US, standards will be set elsewhere, said Supe-Dienes.

Jacques Pelkmans, Senior Research Fellow at the European think-tank CEPS, agreed that TTIP would bring important benefits particularly for the engineering sector.

– The engineering sector is by far the biggest sector to export to the US. Here we have a big and rising trade balance. We are especially good at custom-made industry machinery and it’s here that the US is making our life difficult. Our studies show that bringing the regulatory barriers down will bring huge benefits including to our small and medium sized companies, said Pelkmans.

British member of the European Parliament David Martin, representing the social-democratic group S&D, underlined his support for a “good TTIP.”

– The example of the free trade agreement with South Korea shows that a good TTIP will contribute to growth and more jobs. We have some red lines though. We should have a trade and sustainability chapter, full exclusion of public services and an investment and dispute settlement mechanism in line with the one recently proposed by the Commission. From my constituency I have many examples of positive effects of an agreement, particularly if we can enhance regulatory cooperation. But public perception is crucial. We have to make sure that the public understand an agreement will not mean lower standards, he concluded.

Christian Ardhe

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