New England Small Business Weighs in on U.S.–E.U. Trade Arrangements

US, EU flags small

The United States and European Union have begun negotiating a new trade agreement, the proposed U.S.–E.U. Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or T-TIP). This transatlantic trade partnership was announced by President Obama in February 2013. It is envisioned as an ambitious, high-standard trade and investment agreement that will promote U.S. international competitiveness, jobs, and growth.

As the voice for small business in the federal government, the Office of Advocacy has been helping small businesses make their concerns heard, especially those that pertain to regulatory differences between the U.S. and E.U. systems that pose barriers to our exports.

On July 26, Advocacy partnered with the Massachusetts Export Center to host a roundtable discussion on T-TIP. The event gave New England small businesses the opportunity to meet with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the primary agency responsible for conducting trade negotiations.

Forty-one people registered for the roundtable, representing 26 companies in the areas of banking, high tech, energy, medical devices, eyewear, fisheries, and textiles.  Fifteen were goods or services exporters and four were import/export/trading companies.

Participating on behalf of USTR was Christina Sevilla, deputy assistant trade representative for SMEs and market access. She and her team appeared via videoconference.  Businesses were able to inform USTR of the issues they face in accessing the EU market. They discussed a variety of issues affecting their EU exports of software, eyeglasses, fish and fertilizer, medical devices, and textiles.

Also in attendance were officials from the Massachusetts Export Center: Paula Murphy, director; Maryanne Burke, senior international trade specialist; and John Joyce, SBA export finance manager; James Cox, regional director for the U.S. Department of Commerce; and New England Small Business Advocate Lynn Bromley and Assistant Chief Counsel Sarah Bresolin Silver from the Office of Advocacy. Two trade promotion groups participated: Enterprise Ireland and the British American Business Council of New England. And two international diplomats were in attendance: Zoran Jolevski, the Macedonian ambassador to the United States, and Susie Kitchens, the British consul general in Boston.

Do EU Trade Barriers Affect You? Small businesses should also be aware of another federal government effort to promote trade with the EU and identify trade barriers.  The U.S. International Trade Commission is gathering information for a major study on trade-related barriers that disproportionately affect small and medium-sized enterprises’ exports to the EU. ITC will hold hearings in Washington, D.C., in October. During September, the agency is holding 20 roundtables around the country.

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