How the TTIP can improve the EU SMEs’ participation in Transatlantic Trade


European Commission. 2015. Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an ambitious attempt by the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) to deliver a comprehensive trade and investment treaty. Both the US Government and the European Commission argue that TTIP can deliver significant economic benefits by increasing trade and investment across the Atlantic. However, this is not universally supported. Organizations and campaign groups in the EU have questioned the economic benefits of TTIP and argue that certain elements of the trade deal could result in significant economic and social detriment.

According to a new report released by the European Commission, TTIP has significant potential for small and medium sized enterprises. It presents newly available statistical data to show the economic significance of EU SMEs’ exports to the US market, finding that 28% of the EU’s direct exports to the US are by SMEs. EU SMEs’ exports also represent a significant share of total US imports.

Against this background, the second section gives an indication of the challenges faced by SMEs exporting to the US, with a view to making trade easier in the future. It presents the results of an online survey of 869 European companies providing a broad view of the issues that are most important for SMEs. In many sectors, respondents highlighted very specific challenges they face in the US market. There are also numerous cross-cutting issues. The challenge of complying with technical rules and regulations for all goods is the most frequently cited issue. In some cases, EU SMEs say they are legally excluded from the market, as in many parts of public procurement. Other issues include problems of simply accessing information about what regulation applies to their product.

Further, the survey confirms the general understanding that barriers are likely to be more of a deterrent for SMEs’ exports than for large firms as these smaller firms perceive them as being more costly relative to their sales. This suggests that these barriers may by their nature force firms to incur fixed costs to overcome them, which means that the smaller firms with less financial resources will be particularly affected.

According to the report, the survey results underscore the possibilities offered by the ongoing TTIP negotiations to effectively contribute to facilitating the access of EU SMEs to the US market.

(Fabrizio Di Mascio)

Photo credits: European Parliament