We frequently hear arguments for and against the TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that the US and the EU have been working on since 2013. The groups against this partnership focus on how it will only benefit large corporations at the expense of smaller businesses and citizens, while the groups that argue for it underscore the advantages it will bring in trade and export related matters for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). But, what do Spanish SMEs think about the TTIP?
The office of the European Commission in Spain has rolled out a project which seeks to provide a space where these businesses themselves can voice their opinion on what they hope the partnership will bring. Several SMEs have shared their testimonials through the aforementioned website.
Four major advantages
The European Commission itself has issued this report, offering some insight into the huge opportunities that the TTIP will yield for Spanish SMEs. The report highlights four major advantages:
1. A reduction or suppression of the tariffs that currently apply between the EU and the US, thus eliminating entry barriers.
2. The reduction of unnecessary costs of bureaucracy.
3. The provision of access to segments of the US market that have remained virtually closed up until now.
4. Expansion of the list of protected geographical denominations.
From a SME standpoint
On the website set up by the European Commission, several companies have explained in what ways they hope the partnership will boost their exports into the US. On a per sector basis, in the case of the food industry, some companies argue that thanks to the treaty they may be able to compete on equal grounds against some Latin American businesses already trading with the US under a zero-tariff scheme. Spanish SMEs in the food sector, such as canning companies, face tariffs of up to 17%.
In the case of oil and wine, some companies believe that the approval of common standards will allow them to break into states such as California, which have their own regulations, and also sell their products under their own designations of origin.
Other business owners, such as olive and canned food producers, expect the TTIP to reduce the customs inspection procedures that their products currently have to undergo, and which translate into huge costs. Others are hoping that the TTIP will help speed up the current product approval and registration processes by the ‘Food and Drug Administration’ to engage in their distribution on the other side of the Atlantic.
In areas such as engineering and technology, the enactment of the TTIP could mean simplified procedures to obtain work permits for qualified workers, and the recognition of university degrees. Spanish technology companies believe that the partnership will bring regulatory harmonization in technology product certifications between the US and the EU.
The aeronautical industry, for instance, hopes that the TTIP may lower protectionism in public bidding processes, something that chemical and technological companies also look forward to. The automobile industry sees the agreement as a way to increase regulatory consistency, an outcome that would make it easier to obtain the type-approval for the products they manufacture in the US market. Furthermore, they argue that the paperwork required to invest or open a commercial division in the US may also be simplified.
Spanish companies that market technical furniture believe that the treaty will lower certification costs, as companies today have to bear significant extra—costs on each design. Solar power companies believe that the current 2.8% tariff will be lowered, and the graphene industry expects standards regulating new materials to be homologated, a step that could lead to the joint development of global standards and regulations.
Voices from across the business spectrum agree in highlighting that the TTIP will boost the exchange of knowledge, increase R&D+i among Spanish companies and drive interest in our country’s technology.