TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a massive EU-US free trade deal. Scarcely anyone knows about it, but those who do are asking why should anyone believe that TTIP will be good for business and good for our economy? And who exactly is likely to benefit from TTIP?
Could your business compete on these terms?
The main aim of TTIP is to downgrade or remove regulatory ‘barriers’ so that US businesses will be able to access European markets without complying with our regulations and vice versa. This gives a big advantage to US businesses, because their production costs are much lower due to less strict regulations, fewer employment rights and cheap energy. US big business can also make huge economies of scale in order to offer products at much cheaper prices than European small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
How will your business survive, if TTIP forces you into unfair direct competition with some of the largest multinational corporations in the world?
Good for our economy?
In the UK, SMEs represent over 99% of UK businesses and they provide jobs for 15.6 million people. The Government has acknowledged that small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) are “a major source of job creation as well as being critical in driving economic growth through innovation and competition”.
But even the European Commission has calculated that TTIP will lead to the loss of at least 680,000 jobs in the EU. Our exports to other European countries could also be severely damaged by TTIP, with an estimated 40% drop in the value of UK exports to Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland.
Does this sound like justice?
The most controversial part of TTIP is the proposed Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which allows multinationals to sue governments in private tribunals if their profits are affected by policy changes. ISDS offers no such benefits to small businesses, which could be bankrupted by the average cost of $8 million per case.
How can you protect your business?
Thousands of businesses in Germany have signed an ‘SMEs against TTIP’ petition. Companies such as Lush and Spar have spoken out against TTIP, and Jamie Oliver has expressed concern that TTIP will damage the quality of our food.
The UK campaign Business against TTIP was launched in January by several high-profile businesspeople including the 2015 Entrepreneur of the Year, Titus Sharpe. It calls on the UK government and the European Commission to stop the TTIP negotiations. UK registered businesses and trade associations can obtain information and sign up to this campaign via the website www.businessagainstttip.org.
Across Europe hundreds of local councils and municipalities (35in the UK including Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle) have declared themselves TTIP Free Zones as a way of putting pressure on government to oppose this massive trade deal.