The Business Growth Foundation (BGF) has published the results of its recently commissioned YouGov research, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK SMEs and their views on international trade. The findings reveal profound concerns amongst SMEs about the potential impacts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Iain Hasdell, Chief Executive of the BGF said: “Our research shows only 14% of SMEs can see any benefit of the TTIP to their business. It also shows how concerned SMEs are about the detailed implications of the TTIP. Almost half feel it is being framed to help large, non-SME companies.

“These findings are a stark reality check to pro TTIP politicians and business membership organisations. This new trade deal with the US is not by definition good for UK SMEs but it can be if the terms are right and if it gains the endorsement of SMEs. Our research illustrates how very far away from that we are right now. That is why we are calling for a pause in the TTIP negotiations and a major re-think on the UK’s approach.”

The Foundation is calling on the government to urgently commission a full, independent impact assessment of the TTIP proposals on UK SMEs sector by sector, so all the costs and benefits can be properly considered. It is also advocating a comprehensive Government backed debate directly with UK SMEs about every detailed implication of the TTIP proposals.

It is calling for the outcomes of debates with SMEs and the key findings of the impact assessment to be taken by the UK into the negotiations about the deal.  

Leading UK businessman and Chair of the Business Growth Foundation, Ninder Johal is clear about the disconnect between SMEs and the bodies that represent them, and what needs to be achieved:

“Our findings follow on from the European Commission’s own, paid consultants who, when looking at the TTIP in detail, said it was not good for SMEs and showed that most sectors that benefit are not ones that SMEs are active in.”

“Any deal that does not benefit a business sector, which is so fundamental to the UK economy is the wrong deal. Our role as a foundation is to give a voice to SMEs, and to bring about real change for the sector.  Calling for an immediate freeze and renegotiation of TTIP is just the start, we want to work with the sector and its affiliated organisations to bridge this fundamental gap in knowledge and engagement.”

“We understand that the SME sector is complex and disparate and we’re not saying we have all of the answers, we simply wished to effectively highlight where the challenges are and to clearly state that there is an issue. The overall goal of any initiative such as this should be to create wealth and strengthen the economy and to achieve this, UK SMEs must have a seat at the table.”