Supply chain ยท 13 July 2016

Small firms remain unclear about impact of TTIP negotiations

TTIP is the most recently proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US
Many small business owners remain in the dark about the implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on their firm.

Negotiations around the new trade agreement between Europe and the US due to conclude before the end of 2016, yet according to the results of a new survey from banking group Close Brothers, just 39 per cent of small business owners are aware of what it may have in store.

Of those small business owners that are aware of the ongoing negotiations, 38 per cent feel that the agreement is likely to have a positive impact on their company, whereas 24 per cent fear that TTIP will be detrimental to growth.

A further 38 per cent of small business owners said that they weren?t sure what the implications of TTIP would be.

First tabled by president Barack Obama in 2013, TTIP is the most recently proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US, aiming to further promote free trade and multilateral growth by improving market access and limiting cross-border tariffs and regulation.

Head of Close Brothers Invoice Finance David Thomson said that businesses of all sizes should be more aware of TTIP than they are. ?This is a significant issue that really should be on the radars of more businesses.

?Even among those firms where awareness is good, there are very different views about whether this will be a good deal for small businesses,? he said.

The government has claimed that Britain?s smaller firms will benefit from the greater export opportunities and lower import costs that TTIP will bring. ?But, for those most concerned the main worry is that larger corporations will benefit at the expense of small businesses.

Thomson went on to say: ?Smaller firms need to do some serious thinking over the next few months. While the EU referendum may have been distracting, it would be a mistake to think that the EU?s decision to leave the EU will mean our businesses no longer need to consider the TTIP relevant to them.?

Last year, the European Commission claimed that TTIP would add ?120bn and ?90bn to the economies of the EU and the US respectively. Opponents in Britain have claimed, however, that the agreement would force the government to relinquish control of public services in favour of multinational firms, and leave the country open to being sued for foreign countries.

The negotiation process has been plagued by leaks about its most controversial elements, including, most recently, rumours that the agreement would include loopholes undermining a G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade.

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.