Emma McClarkin, Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands region in the UK, last week hosted a TTIP roundtable breakfast with businesses from across her constituency in the East Midlands. The event was attended by the UK Trade Minister Lord Francis Maude, Christina Sevilla, the lead US negotiator for SMEs in TTIP, and Ian Harrison, regional director for UK Trade and Investment, East Midlands.
The roundtable was an opportunity for these speakers, including McClarkin herself, to lay out why TTIP is a good deal for businesses on both sides, but particularly for East Midlands businesses, as well as allowing for the business representatives themselves to feed into the process by explaining what they find difficult about trading in the US. A range of issues were discussed, from sanitary and phytosanitary standards and testing requirements to the potential for a comprehensive intellectual property chapter addressing issues such as smoother patent processes.
In particular, and with the presence of Ms Sevilla's expertise in particular at the meeting, the importance of the deal for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) was reaffirmed. She highlighted that 98% of US exporters are SME's, who are currently missing out on simpler ways to export. She emphasised that the EU and the US are now writing the rules for the 21st century economy through TTIP, saying "We are standard makers, not standard takers." Lord Maude, whose task as Trade Minister has been to increase UK exports, added, "There is no such thing as steady state, businesses are either growing or shrinking. Sitting back in your home market is no longer an option."
Following the meeting, Emma welcomed the opportunity to meet with everyone involved. She said:
"I am delighted that this was of interest to many of our businesses here in the East Midlands, who are particularly keen to get a deal done with the US so that they can either start trading there or build upon what they already do. There is enormous potential; in 2015 East Midlands firms exported £2.2 billion to the US.
The deal is set to benefit SMEs the most. They are the ones who struggle to access the US market due to regulatory requirements because they have neither the manpower nor the money; they are the true ambassadors for this deal. Christina's insight was extremely useful today and I hope it shows that negotiators and others involved in the negotiations are listening to them to find out what barriers to trade TTIP should remove."
Following the meeting, Emma was accompanied to Chinook Sciences Ltd with the other speakers to visit their state of the art facilities. Chinook is a Nottingham based firm, whose primary business is in turning waste into energy, and they have become a world leader in this field. They also operate in New Jersey and look forward to a TTIP deal that will cut red tape, allowing their company to comply more easily with regulation across the Atlantic.