MEP, Christofer Fjellner on Strong Trends that are Subtly Emerging as Opportunities for SMEs in TTIP
Success of the company, no matter is it SME or a large corporation, strongly depends on many macroeconomic and microeconomic factors, with the big or even medium level trend among them without any doubt being The Factor. To “marry” the trend and build the niche within it – is the dream of many entrepreneurs, and we cannot blame them for this preference. It is profitable, it can extend life of any business for many years, save that its owner will not cease to look constantly for the newly emerging trends.
Good observers can clearly see now how really long term trends have gradually been developing all over the world with the intention to pursue deep changes in ways of how we live and operate. So it is time for many SMEs to jump on the trend or adjust accordingly their current routes to prevent the inevitable failure if moving in the opposite direction. Food safety, water, resource scarcity and opening of the new markets are some of these trends which emerge on this stage of the humanity development and require immediate solutions. By expanding on the planet they deliver lots of opportunities for the local entrepreneurs to build profitable and long lasting businesses should they jump on their waves. One of the major and immediate consequences of these trends’ extension is globalization which opens the borders between nations to pave the road to the solution of the mentioned global problems. Sweepingly developing new technologies dictate us to cooperate on the planetary level to make them serve our needs efficiently. Of course such tremendous changes cannot proceed without any negative, sometimes disruptive consequences. But still we hardly have any time left for simple judgments now only actions speak and help.
One of the major points missed for some time in the current development is the timely correction of all scopes of business: political, economic and other relations between countries and even continents. The task here is to eliminate timely all the obstacles on the way of the current trends movement to help them to help us in a win-win way. No side should betray its national interests – its own businesses, SMEs and to have the treaty for the sake of the treaty. This very process of tough negotiations happens now between USA and EU whose representatives work very hard on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
At this stage for Europe the closest partner to start such process is USA, as there are a lot more similarities in legislation, trade and final goals than with any other country. Though it is not easy as both side are used to be winners in negotiations, “and that is the challenge” – says Christofer FJELLNER, MEP (Sweden) in our telephone conversation, “We are used to getting our way, and so are the Americans. To deliver and make the difference with this agreement we will have to compromise, and we should be able to reduce any non-tariff barriers. In my view, it is a dangerous perception to think that European food is safe and American food is not. It is probably safe on both sides; we have different emphasis on what kind of risk we are ready to accept. And the most important is that if we want to set global standards in food safety our best partner is USA, because we never will find someone closer to us”. Probably the first step in overcoming these barriers, as stated in TTIP, is the agreement that both EU and USA will NOT be standard takers but mutual standard makers.
Why so? Because they have to prevent all terrible negative consequences of the past style of development such as dramatic Climate Change, Drinking Water Deficit, all Natural Resources Scarcity and Food Safety issues. Hypothetically, should we find on the Globe some “Ideal Country” which “properly” addresses climate’s change tough requirements and boasts with a “safely” developed agriculture, would this country solve the existing problems on the planetary scale? Apparently – not, except its attempt to achieve the theoretical standard. Or talking about food safety: this topic embraces overwhelmingly wide scope of problems from GMO products, pesticides residues, use of quality water, hormones among the main ones for European side and in addition to them non-pasteurized milk and cheese for Americans . Of course, they require the togetherness and properly coordinated actions of all stakeholders to find and implement the real solutions. But these solutions should work for all people, all businesses not only large corporations, but for SMEs especially as they deliver huge share of employment in any country.
Christofer FJELLNER, MEP (Sweden) stated that: “There is a big challenge for EU and USA in the area of Food Safety and Trade. If we manage to agree, we have a good potential for setting global standards, other countries can to adapt them. For example, if we will have a good system of mutual recognition on different food standards that will open EU market to other countries that want to enter it. Of course we will have tariffs and such, but for emerging economies Food Safety is the major issue. If we at least can harmonize non-tariff barriers it would be easier for other countries to adopt to one set of rules instead of two, and by that having access to the biggest market. I think there are wider implications for emerging markets from TTIP”.
So, TTIP focuses on 3 major topics such as: improvement of the existing cooperation between USA and EU through establishment and /or changes the broader rules and principles of cooperation, establishment of regulations on markets’ access and consideration of specific regulation on the road.
What major goals will EU and USA pursue to achieve at the end of this long –term thoroughly conducted process of the TTIP implementation?
First of all by liberating over 30% of the world trade TTIP is expected to dramatically boost job creation process on both sides of the Atlantic. Finally it should reduce by 80% the process of duplication in procedures and standards which would economically considered to be beneficial for all stakeholders. According to the preliminary evaluation of EU experts TTIP will boost EU economy by 120 billion euros, USA – by 90 billion euros and the rest of the world – by 100 billion euros.
Of course, there are barriers which are really difficult to overcome in a mutually beneficial way, it extends the time frame of the debates as neither side of negotiations is willing to accept the other side standards or terms . We are talking about, for example, GMO products, fracking, equal possibilities for SMEs of both sides to work on the other side markets, copyrights laws, finance etc. And especially important to underlie the European side struggle for their SMEs easier access to the American market which definitely will open if not Klondike but still huge opportunities for Europeans.
The major trend one cannot undervalue is the opening of new markets for the Western world.
For example, currently political obstacles have been eliminated with the sanctions lifted from Iran and Belarus. Interestingly enough to mention that the Iranian market is not a stranger for Europe currently their trading balance is 5.3 Bln.
High Representative Federica Mogherini held talks on May 19, 2016 with her counterparts from France, Germany, the UK and the US on how the recent nuclear agreement with Iran – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – can be turned into real opportunities to do business in the country.
Iran the country with 80 mln population is very rich with mineral and some agricultural resources though it lacks of many products and technologies which Europe delivered in the past and can deliver now. Also important to emphasize that Iran in contrary to some other countries boasts with availability of educated work force there which makes this market very attractive for SMEs. With all the Climate Change controversy in Iranian strategy, Iran historically is very interested and experienced in developing wind energy. Though it is important to emphasize as MEP, Christofer FJELLNER pointed out: “What trade strategy will Iran embark on, will they use this momentum as an opportunity to open their market, reduce tariffs and welcome trade? Even in what is traditionally connected with a lot of protectionism globally, probably as well in Iran that would be Food and Fisheries products. Is Iran open for business?”
Christofer FJELLNER, MEP (Sweden) is a member of European Parliament Committee on International Trade, Delegation for relations with Belarus, Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly; substitute member of Committee on Budgets, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Delegation for relations with Iran.