Friday, July 26, 2013

How Will Proposed Free Trade Agreement Affect Small Business

On Friday, July 26, 2013, David Trumbull, Principal, Agathon Associates, attended a roundtable on "Transatlatic Trade and Investment Partnership ('TTIP') and Opportunities for Small Business," organized by the Massachusetts Export Center. While there he was able to question Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative ("USTR") for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Market Access regarding the U.S. commitment to lowering the European Union's ("EUs") non-tariff barriers in the textile sector.

The US and the EU have relatively low tariffs. The purpose of the TTIP, then, is not so much tariff phaseout, but, as the as the European Commission has stated: "[The] potential lies in the tackling of non-tariff barriers." By non-tariff barrier ("NTB") we mean customs procedures, environmental, workplace safety, and consumer protection regulations, standards, restrictions (such as the Berry Amendment) on government acquisitions, and other regulations that add a cost to trans-Atlantic trade.

A 2009 study by the European research and consulting firm Ecorys found that NTBs added 19.2 percent to the cost of European textile and clothing articles imported into the US. The added NTB cost for US textiles and clothing exported to the EU was found to be 16.7 percent.

The United State International Trade Commission is accepting, through October 15, 2013, comments relating to the TTIP and NTB, with particular emphasis on their affect on small business. For more information regarding this opportunity to comment, see the press release on the USITC website here.

On May 10, 2013, Agathon Associates submitted comments to the office of the USTR regarding TTIP, those comments are available on the "Textiles and Trade Blog" here.

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