This weekend (23 and 24 April 2016) US President Barack Obama has been speaking about progress on concluding negotiations on the EU-US free trade agreement, otherwise known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Here are some key facts about the trade deal.
TTIP – what is it?
TTIP is a major EU–US free trade agreement that aims to boost trade and investment between the 2 economies, and could inject up to £10 billion into the UK economy. The EU–US free trade deal will reduce the cost to business of different regulations and standards by promoting greater compatibility, whilst maintaining our high levels of health, safety, labour and environmental standards.
What are the benefits for individuals?
Shoppers can expect to see a wider choice of products available both online and on the high street, and individuals will likely see an increase in their wages. It has been predicted that the average household will benefit by up to £400 per year.
Surely this is just for big business?
That’s not true, in fact small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) stand to gain the most from the TTIP. More than 99% of all businesses in the US andEU are SMEs. Currently, they are hit the hardest by barriers to trade between the EU and US and will often not have the time or money to navigate the different rules and regulations required to operate in the US.
Removing unnecessary barriers to trade and improving regulatory co-operation will save SMEs both time and money as there will be less red tape for them to contend with.
TTIP will lower standards?
This agreement is not about deregulation or lowering standards. The EU–USfree trade agreement will not remove or lower health, safety, environmental or labour standards. This deal will not give the EU or US the power to change each other’s regulations, including EU restrictions on genetically modified foods. Nor will the deal prevent either the EU or the US from introducing new environmental and low carbon legislation.
What this deal will do is dramatically decrease the costs for British businesses exporting to the US, whilst ensuring our standards and the benefits of regulation are in no way compromised.
This deal is a threat to the UK’s public services?
It’s a common misconception that TTIP will threaten some of our public services. The government has always been clear that protecting our public services is of the utmost importance for the UK and this will not be compromised for gains in any other part of the TTIP deal.
There are safeguards in place – in both this and previous trade deals – that achieve this protection.
TTIP is a threat to democracy – big businesses will be able to sue the government and overturn UK laws?
There is a misunderstanding that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a threat to our democracy. The purpose of investment provisions is to protect small and big businesses, individuals and pension funds from discriminatory or unfair treatment by a state. They are not about allowing foreign businesses to sue governments that pass laws which affect profits. The UK has over 90 bilateral investment treaties with other countries and, to date, there has not been a single successful ISDS case brought against the UK, nor has the threat of potential claims affected the government’s legislative programme.
For more information and to keep up to date on the progress of negotiations, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/index_en.htm.