The trades and crafts sector will lose out under TTIP

Between September and December 2015 ‘Handwerk International Baden-Württemberg’ carried out a survey of the members of the Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Trades, Crafts and Small Industries on TTIP. The results were as follows: 79 % of the companies surveyed took a negative view of TTIP; only 7 % took a positive view. The picture is clear.
Germany has approximately 887,000 trades and crafts businesses employing nearly five million people
and almost 500,000 trainees and apprentices. Compare that to the car manufacturing industry: in 2015 it empl
oyed just under 800,000 people. The trades and crafts sector covers a very diverse range of activities. There are 41 trades and crafts that require official authorisation; and 53 that do not. There are also another 57 trades and crafts described as being similar to standard trades and crafts. So, for example, bicycle mechanics are deemed to be craftsmen in the same way as surgical device mechanics, electrical mechanical engineers, hairdressers and rope makers.
But most trades and crafts businesses have one thing in common: they tend to be strongly integrated into
regional value-added chains. Exports,particularly outside Europe, play a minor role. But despite this, the trades and crafts sector too would be affected by the major impact that an international agreement such as TTIP would have. In the survey carried out by Handwerk International Baden-Württemberg, 82 % of companies said they felt the deal risked giving preferential treatment to large corporates.
It is certainly the case that TTIP will expose Europe’s trades and crafts businesses to increased and unfair competition from international companies. And TTIP might also mean another back-door attack on the German master craftsman diploma system, with all the associated and well-documented consequences for quality in the various trades and crafts that that would mean. The German Social Accident Insurance Association (DGUV) points out that TTIP would also threaten occupational safety if, once negotiations are complete, there were a clash of two differing approaches to safety.
The strongest arguments from TTIP proponents are either not relevant to trades and crafts businesses or turn out to be disadvantages for European businesses: tariffs are already barely of any significance. The opening up of public procurement plays primarily into the hands of those companies that operate globally. The mutual recognition of conformity evaluations and product certifications could lead to a unilateral commercial advantage for US companies.