The UK government’s energetic support for an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement between the EU and the US is welcome – a legacy of the UK’s historic success in opening up its economy to the rest of the world, and its extensive ties with the US that TTIP could build on. For TTIP to succeed, governments and supporters of free trade across the EU need to make a similar case to their citizens.
By Timothy Adamson, Research Specialist at AmCham EU.
At an event held in London on March 24, representatives from across government, business and civil society in Britain gathered to discuss the possible impact of the proposed TTIP agreement on the UK. Discussion at the event focused on the possible impact of TTIP on the country’s economy, its consumers and citizens, and on its public services. The broad support among participants for the deal reflects the country’s longstanding commitment to free trade and the opportunities that TTIP could bring to the UK.
A recent study by the World Trade Institute, based in Bern, Switzerland, found that a transatlantic free trade agreement could provide a boost to the country’s GDP, wages and foreign investments, as well as increase UK exports to the US by as much as 18 percent. Such economic gains are an important pillar of TTIP and could lead to more jobs and growth and an increase in the country’s competitiveness.
It could especially open up new opportunities for British small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Today, 4 out of 5 UK small businesses do not export overseas. Yet research shows that companies that do export tend to grow faster and create more jobs than those that do not. By removing some of the barriers that currently stop many UK companies from trading with the US, TTIP will allow many small businesses with limited resources to access the lucrative US market.
TTIP could benefit the country in other ways too. Improving the trading environment between the UK and the US could allow products and services to be brought to market quicker and more efficiently, giving consumers more choice at cheaper prices. It could also enhance regulatory standards on both sides of the Atlantic, establish world-leading and binding provisions in areas such as labour and the environment, and also enhance the UK’s “special relationship” with the US which continues to help guarantee global security and development.
The UK government recognises these very real opportunities. At the event last month, representative Verity Threlfell reiterated the government’s support and argued that the EU should look to conclude a “good deal” this year – a hope shared by all those enthusiastic about the deal. The government has also looked to refute some of the myths that surround TTIP – notably in making clear that the deal does not provide any threat to the country’s National Health Service (NHS).
The EU and the US hope to conclude the TTIP negotiations by the end of this year. Should the agreement be concluded, it will need to be ratified by the parliaments of all 28 EU countries. In order for TTIP to succeed, governments, businesses and all supporters of free trade need to make the case for the agreement. Active and passionate engagement with citizens on the benefits and challenges posed by TTIP can help to demonstrate to European citizens the real opportunities that it could bring.
AmCham EU will remain at the forefront of these efforts and stands ready to engage with stakeholders across the EU to help achieve an ambitious and comprehensive deal that meets the needs of everyone.AmCham EU Trade