Posted at 2:35 PM
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivered remarks at the “T-TIP: Big Gains for Small Firms” event held during the 2016 Hannover Messe. The event provided an opportunity to discuss how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) can benefit small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) on both sides of the Atlantic.
Before more than 250 representatives from U.S. and German companies, Secretary Pritzker highlighted the important role that SMEs play in the U.S. and German economies, and how T-TIP will help their companies compete in the global economy.
Following her remarks, Secretary Pritzker participated in a panel discussion with Sigmar Gabriel, German Minister of Economy and Vice Chancellor, as well as representatives from U.S. and German SMEs, including Evelyn Dornseif, Managing Director of HUDORA; Jens Saß, Manager of Implantcast; Jeff Lamb, President of OptiLedge; and John Deluca, International Sales Manager of Liberty Pumps.
Remarks As Prepared For Delivery
Thank you, Vice Chancellor Gabriel, for the kind introduction.
Let me begin today by telling you the story of two companies, one European and one American. Montavit is a small medicine producer based in Austria. 65 years ago, they became the first company in their country to produce antihistamines. Today, this innovative, 150-person company is selling its pharmaceutical products around the world. In America, Oregon-based manufacturer High Impact Technology creates defense and security products using “smart materials,” including coating for fuel tanks that protects against bullet damage in war zones. Thirty percent of the company’s sales are international, and exports support more than half of the company’s 45 employees.
Montavit and High Impact Technology are the kind of small companies that we put extra effort into creating business opportunities for this year at Hannover Messe. The United States and German have invested considerable time and energy into connecting our companies with each other and with our communities in order to increase exports and investment. But our success is significantly hampered by the barriers our companies face doing business with one another. High Impact faces a 6.5 percent tariff on some of its products sold to the EU. For small firms, even small added costs mean the difference between entering new European markets and looking for opportunities elsewhere. And Montavit is required to undergo costly duplicative certification and inspection procedures – first locally, and then by American authorities – before their medical products can enter the U.S. market.
The challenges these two companies face are not unique, but they are illustrative. Companies on both sides of the Atlantic have real demand for their innovative products. But trade barriers make it hard for small businesses with tight margins to make the leap across the pond to compete in a foreign market. Small and mid-size businesses need the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to help them overcome unnecessary trade barriers like tariffs on finished products and parts, divergent regulations, complex or unclear customs paperwork, and restrictions on e-commerce. Put simply: T-TIP will make exporting simpler and more cost effective. It will unlock the full export potential of American and European small businesses.
T-TIP will reduce regulatory costs and burdens while maintaining high levels of safety. It will minimize redundant audits by opening the door for greater cooperation and exchange between American and European regulators. And it will encourage greater transparency and fact-based decision-making to ensure regulations do not become disguised trade barriers. T-TIP will also secure the free flow of data and decrease customs duties for small shipments, ensuring that small businesses can rely on e-commerce to more easily reach new customers. T-TIP will ensure that small businesses benefit from lower barriers, reduced costs, and increased efficiency. Most importantly, they will benefit from smarter regulations, not de-regulation.
Today, of the roughly 50 million small and medium sized enterprises based in the United States and Europe, fewer than 260,000 are exporting their goods across the Atlantic. Let me say that again: fewer than 260,000. We must do better. We need the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Policy makers in the United States understand this. Policy makers in Europe understand this. And Mittelstand companies like Montavit and High Impact Technology understand this.
Our negotiators have taken significant steps towards closing the small business chapter in T-TIP so small and medium sized businesses can be the drivers of modern trade. By negotiating and enacting a strong, progressive T-TIP, the United States and Europe can continue to lead the world economy in a manner that reflects our high standards and common values. Together, we can improve the economic security of both our peoples and our businesses. Thank you.