Finland’s employers (EK), employees (SAK) and farmers (MTK) are united in support of an ambitious free trade and investment agreement between the EU and the US – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Currently, trade across the Atlantic is burdened with unnecessary costs, which discourages in particular small and medium sized companies from engaging in trade. A transatlantic trade and investment agreement can make trade less costly, and enhance trade, to the benefit of workers and businesses, especially smaller companies.
The economic, political and social impact of the free trade agreement will depend on the high level of ambition and scope of the final text. Finland as a small and open economy with high social and environmental standards has always benefited from the opening of markets and from promotion of fair competition.
SAK, MTK and EK agree that TTIP can have a very significant positive contribution for transatlantic trade, our competitiveness, maintaining and creating quality jobs, strengthening growth and increasing tax income if it effectively addresses the following issues:
- The compatibility of diverging technical regulations, standards, testing and certification requirements needs to be promoted while maintaining high standards. This would make trade in a number of sectors much easier and open up new opportunities especially for SMEs. Many Finnish SMEs operate in the engineering sector producing machinery and appliances and these products need laborious acceptance tests in the US even though these are accepted in a very similar way in the EU. These costs can add up to 20 per cent of the total sales price of the machine.
- The EU is exporting added value products to the US and there is potential for new markets. Our Nordic Food export is focusing on healthy, innovative and high safety products, while the EU is concentrating on GI products. To increase export volumes there’s a need of regulatory convergence. However, the food safety system in the EU is based on precautionary principle and transparency of whole product chain and not only on the quality of the outcome as in the US.
- Provides equal access to public procurement markets. European companies experience significant difficulties accessing the vast US public procurement market due to local content requirements.
- Ensures that cross-border data flows are not hindered. Cross-border data flows are absolutely necessary for businesses of all sizes and every sector. Limiting the possibility of data flowing across borders would be detrimental to competitiveness and growth of our companies.
- Investment protection in TTIP should aim at ensuring that foreign investors receive the same high but not greater level of investment protection as domestic investors. It is important that TTIP ensures adequate protection of foreign investors against direct or indirect expropriation or unfair treatment.
- Investment protection must be based on the following principles: rule of law and preserving the legislators’ right to address public policy concerns such as public health, rights at work, environmental protection and consumer protection. While all the undersigned do not consider ISDS as an essential part of TTIP, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in an improved and reformed format could provide an impartial process for dispute settlement. TTIP could improve the existing dispute settlement mechanisms in a number of ways.
- Has a specific chapter on sustainable development, including clear provisions on labour rights that are consistent with the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. It is vital that the EU and the US push for a more global adoption of these rights and standards. This would also create a more level playing field in the global economy.
- Fulfills enormous potential in strengthening high joint standards, better regulation, as well as the global trade and investment rules in a number of areas, including consumer safety, protection of the environment, labour markets, energy trade, investment etc. It’s always worth stating that the TTIP is about setting joint and high standards for future trade and investment agreements – not lowering the existing ones.
The representatives of EK, SAK and MTK together with the Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Lenita Toivakka meet on Feb 24th with Cecilia Malmström, the Commissioner for Trade and other EU decision makers.
For more information please contact:
Chief Policy Adviser Simo Karetie, EK:
tel. +358 40 837 5431, firstname.lastname@example.org, @KaretieSimo
Adviser for International Affairs, Aleksi Kuusisto, SAK:
tel. +358 41 515 3045, email@example.com, @AleksiKuusisto
Director Juha Ruippo, MTK:
tel. +358 40 553 3232, firstname.lastname@example.org