Parliamentarians, advisors and stakeholders throughout the trans-Atlantic community delved into the potential impact of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on small- and medium-sized businesses at a gathering at the European Parliament (EP). The event, “Business of All Shapes and Sizes”, was hosted by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the US mission to the EU.
Business Europe’s Luisa Santos and National District Export Council’s Daniel Ogden speak of export opportunities for small businesses at a panel discussion in the European Parliament.
Speakers were US and European experts on the small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector. National District Export Council Chairman Emeritus Daniel Ogden, Kentucky Department of Agriculture Export Advisor Jonathan Van Balen and US diplomat Tom Roett gave the American point of view. BusinessEurope Director of International Affairs Luisa Santos and European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Director of External Relations Luc Hendrickx provided the European perspective. MEP Andreas Schwab from the committee on internal markets and consumer protection opened the discussion. Henning vom Stein, head of the Foundation’s Brussels office, moderated the discussion.
The event spotlighted an important sector ― approximately 90 percent of US and European businesses are categorized as small- and medium-sized ― that stands to be significantly impacted by any TTIP agreement. The focus of the conversation was the need to balance eliminating red tape and unnecessary regulation that discourages exports with maintaining high health and safety standards.
Ms Santos illustrated the challenge by speaking about a small European business interested in exporting T-shirts to the US. Different requirements for labeling washing instructions, however, frustrated those plans. Other panelists noted that if mutual recognition of aircraft-safety standards could be agreed, surely the same was possible for directions for washing T-shirts.
The event also focused on criticism of TTIP and the negotiations for an agreement. Lack of transparency, market access for genetically modified organisms and the proper mechanism for resolving investor-state disputes were widely discussed.
This panel was part of an ongoing “Washington 101” series of events aimed at improving understanding of current trans-Atlantic issues and cultivating closer US-EU ties.