You would be forgiven for never having heard of TTIP. Is it a brand of tea? A toiletry product? A type of pesticide? Not exactly. It is a trade and investment negotiation, and it covers all these things. For those within transatlantic business, it is potentially the biggest game-changer since the creation of the European Union single market.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP is currently being negotiated by the United States and the EU, with Britain in a leading role. A successful deal would, among other things, cut tariffs and reduce regulatory barriers between the two continents.
This impacts consumers too. Consider this: clothes from the US have at least a 12 per cent duty, cars 10 per cent and TVs 14 per cent. You can go to the US, buy a pair of jeans for $135 and bring them back on the plane without paying any duty; if you order them online, you get stung with a tax of 12 per cent or more.
From even before these negotiations were launched, we at BritishAmerican Business embarked on a UK national road show to see what benefits, if any, such an agreement could have for small and medium-sized businesses right across the country. From Cardiff to Glasgow, Birmingham to Liverpool, Edinburgh to Sheffield, the answer has been clear: companies still face huge obstacles when doing business with the US. The smaller you are, the more these get in the way.
We have heard from packaging manufacturers, food and drink exporters, and producers of medical equipment, and we are hearing the same stories again and again. They are stories of complicated export documentation, of crippling costs from having to comply with both American and EU standards, and repeated rounds of duties eating away at profits and the business case. Much of what we heard on the road we fed through to legislators and government, and used to fire up an online conversation across our social media.
A successful deal would cut tariffs and reduce regulatory barriers between the two continents
As a leading transatlantic business organisation, we are bringing together many of the world’s leading multinational and middle-market companies across sectors and geographies. We see the negotiations as potentially providing a significant boost to both jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic, benefiting consumers, workers and business alike. We want to engage with as many people as possible to make sure that we get the most out of this once-in-a-generation opportunity. So, please, do let us know if you would like more information or if you have a story to share by visiting tradeinvest.babinc.org/ttip.
A last thought: the UK is the largest investor in the US and the US is the largest investor in the UK, both contributing directly to around 2 million jobs in total. Imagine how many more jobs we could create if we did away with unnecessary barriers. It has been estimated that a successful agreement could be worth £10 billion to the UK economy alone. And, statistics
aside, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to order that pair of jeans without the whopping custom charges?