“T-TIP negotiations will also seek to open opportunities for SMEs in services, government procurement, intellectual property rights, and electronic commerce. As we look toward the 12th round of negotiations next month, I want to reiterate that the United States remains committed to a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment partnership agreement that will benefit SMEs, and we are committed to finalizing the agreement under the Obama Administration.” (U.S. Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner)
Anthony Gardner, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union (USEU), spoke on how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) could affect Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) at the European Parliament on Tuesday January 26, 2016. He concluded his speech entitled “T-TIP – A Chance for SMEs” with this statement regarding the future of the T-TIP agreement to set the tone for the event and emphasize President Obama’s commitment to finishing the T-TIP agreement by the end of his administration.
This event, attended by some 20 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and approximately 50 representatives of the policy making and business community, highlighted the very real opportunities presented by T-TIP, to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on both sides of the Atlantic. As a recent Commission report demonstrated, SMEs play a vital role in the EU’s economy. For example, in 2014 SMEs in the EU accounted for 71% of the 1.5 million net jobs created in the non-financial businesses sector and SMEs in the EU that export are growing their payrolls by 7 percent annually as compared to only 1 percent for those that focus exclusively on their domestic market.
Many of the speakers, including Member of the European Parliament Lara Comi (EPP) and Dr. Eoin Drea of the Martens Center, confirmed that if we want a successful implementation of T-TIP, SMEs will need to be part of the discussion. Many speakers and event attendees agreed that SMEs lie at the heart of what T-TIP is trying to achieve. The breakfast event started with poignant concrete remarks by MEP Iuliu Winkler, Vice-Chair of the INTA Committee and First Vice-President of SME Europe, who also acted as moderator. Maria Åsenius, Commissioner Malmström’s Head of Cabinet also explained that T-TIP negotiations and the finished agreement will have a dedicated chapter on how small stakeholders can contribute to trade policy development.
During the event, each speaker highlighted real-life stories of companies on both sides of the Atlantic that wish to or already engage in transatlantic trade, and hope to benefit, from a successful agreement. Ambassador Gardner and others stated that we cannot just discuss T-TIP in abstract numbers, facts, and figures. Successful implementation means being able to talk about specific examples and companies from both sides of the Atlantic. Various companies were used as examples, such as Integrays, a satellite telecommunications systems company based in Madrid, Revent a Swedish rack oven producer, Feuer Powertrain a German crankshaft company, and NuStep, an American cross-training exercise equipment company.
These stories were noteworthy because they produce a wide array of products, but they also move the discussion of T-TIP from the abstract to the very tangible. Each example noted obstacles to current transatlantic trade that these companies are facing, but also their expectations regarding T-TIP’s ability to help them compete in international trade. As Ambassador Gardner stated: “they put a human face to an acronym and convey – in ways far more compelling than government pronouncements – what we are trying to achieve in T-TIP.”
The day after this event highlighting the potential benefits of a T-TIP agreement for SMEs, the World Trade Institute also launched its own report that concluded that T-TIP would deliver a range of economic and social benefits to the EU.
The U.S. Mission to the EU (USEU) anticipates that the negotiators will continue to make significant progress during the next round of T-TIP negotiations in Brussels later this month.
the USEU Press Team