A survey fielded by the research agency Prognos has found that a majority of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Germany are against the controversial US-EU trade deal TTIP. The European Commission and Member States such as the UK have claimed it will be good for SMEs which form the backbone of European economies and account for most private sector jobs.
As a previous post reported, several thousands SMEs have joined campaigns against TTIP in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands but this survey was of 800 companies within the BVMW, a mainstream German business association. Leader of the BVMW, Mario Ohoven, declared “TTIP must benefit German SMEs – not just the interests of a select few conglomerates”.
Prognos commented: ‘62 percent of companies questioned expect the impact of the agreement to be either “rather negative” or “very negative”. Only 22 percent anticipate a positive impact. Furthermore, German SMEs are not particularly hopeful that the deal will benefit their own businesses. They currently believe that TTIP will mainly benefit large corporations’.
Most SMEs in the survey take a negative view of TTIP regarding their company.
Most SMEs are not optimistic about the wider economic impact.
A majority don’t want to hear more from Brussels – they more want to hear from national politicians and business groups.
Results of the Prognos study are posted in detail at the MORE website (a project I work on): How satisfied are SMEs with current free trade policy ? .
Entrepreneur Hans Schöpflin of the Schöpflin Stiftung which part funded the survey said SMEs “fear unfair competition resulting from rules and regulations that exclusively favour large corporations. We cannot allow a situation to develop whereby TTIP and CETA – which only serve to maximise the profits of large corporations – put smaller companies across the whole of Europe under pressure.”
An increasing number of German and Austrian SMEs are campaigning against TTIP – eg see this report from from Deutsche Welle (see full story online here)
The SME dimension has opened up a new BoB or Business-on-Business front in the TTIP debate. BVMW President Ohovens warns of an imbalance in transatlantic trade: “Unlike Brussels, the US government is not in a position to declare technical standards universally binding. We therefore run the risk of creating a one-way street in trade which would effectively allow US companies to sell products in the EU that conform only to US standards but by contrast would not allow EU companies to sell their EU-compliant products in the USA.” Governments now face a choice. Multinationals have lots of money but SMEs have lots of votes. Whether they feel this is a dilemma remains to be seen.