The EU is currently negotiating what has been described as the most ambitious trade agreement ever with the United States. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been under negotiation since 2013, and on 20 April both parties sat down in New York for the 9th round of negotiations.
This deal is a massive opportunity for UK businesses. The increased trade will add an estimated £100 billion to EU GDP and over £80 billion to US GDP. The UK and the US are each other’s largest foreign investors, and from across the Atlantic, Britain is still seen as the gateway to Europe.
The aim of TTIP is to reduce or eliminate barriers to transatlantic trade and investment. It will cut red tape and regulations that often prohibit market entry. It will remove many major tariffs, and also non-tariff barriers such as differing regulatory and technical standards.
Thousands of UK companies already operate successfully in the US, but trade barriers cost them time and money and limit opportunity. Their removal would encourage many more SMEs to consider exporting to, or setting up in, the US.
It is unclear exactly how far TTIP will go and the shape that the final agreement will take.
Much will depend on the specific tariffs and regulations that are removed or reduced. UK business owners would be well advised to keep an eye on the progress of these negotiations, so that they are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise from them.
As members of the transatlantic business organisation British American Business (BAB), we will be closely following development of this trade agreement. BAB recently produced a report on how SMEs can benefit from TTIP.
Where SMEs do decide to venture into overseas markets, we can help support their expansion through our involvement in the HLB International network. The HLBI Insight magazine for Spring 2015 is now out, and this provides a great feel for the recent network activity.