• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Why family companies need free trade and TTIP
Svalson CEO Maud Spencer. Photo: The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

Why family companies need free trade and TTIP

The Local · 3 Nov 2015, 10:25

Published: 03 Nov 2015 08:25 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Nov 2015 10:25 GMT+01:00

Maud Spencer started working at Svalson 15 years ago but she has always been surrounded by Svalson glass.

Svalson is a family company. It was founded by my father and his brother-in-law, and I took over as CEO about ten years ago,Spencer tells The Local.

Now my brother and my cousin work here, and during the summer my two sons come and work here as well.

It’s a small company, employing just about 40 people in the small northern Swedish town of Öjebyn, but its been going strong for 35 years now, thanks to its one-of-a-kind products.

We are world leaders when it comes to sliding windows,” Spencer says. “We have totally changed the way a reception looks, and all of our windows are tailor-made.

In fact, Svalson is the creator of the only fireproof automatic sliding window in the world a niche market, but nevertheless an important one, Spencer says. The window has been tested and approved by European standards and is accepted throughout Europe.

That means we can sell it over the world Australia and Japan accept it as well.


Svalson glass wind barriers. Photo: Svalson

Theres just one notable exception: the US.

America doesnt accept it,” Spencer says. “If we want to sell it in America then we need to do the tests again in the US.

That would involve flying not just staff but the massive windows themselves to the US and would cost at least €32,000.

For a big company that wouldnt be a problem at all,” Spencer muses. “But for a family company of our size, its an issue.

Svalson has always been an international company, selling to other European countries very early on. But for decades they have been forced to avoid the US.

We always received lots of requests from the States but we said no,” Spencer explains. “It’s just too complicated.

Recently, the company has discovered a loophole that allows them to reach some customers in the US: exporting via a distributor in Canada.

The United States’ northern neighbour accepts the standards and certification of Svalsons products. Yet it’s a cumbersome and expensive way to export - when they should be able to go direct to their American customers:

They dont have to pay the duties or get stuck with paperwork like we do, but they definitely hike the price. It becomes much more expensive for the end user.

In a sense, the Canadian loophole illustrates the absurd nature of many of the trade and regulatory barriers that exist between Europe and the US. Standards are similarly high on both sides of the Atlantic, but are not mutually recognized.

For small businesses like Svalson and the end customers on the other side of the Atlantic TTIP would be a game changer, saving both customers and manufacturers time and money.

TTIP would make a huge difference for small companies,” Spencer says. “It takes away the bureaucracy and would speed up customs, and obviously it would help with the prohibitive costs.

Accessing the American market would double not only sales for the company, but the size of their team as well.  And it would be only natural, Spencer says.

We really would like to take our products to the US. We have the same values, the same needs. Why not?

Spencer says that Svalson would gladly accept US standards. But then it should be enough to allow their products through without additional costly testing.

We can very easily adjust to new standards as long as we know what they are. So that is what we need, to have the same standards and not have to go through expensive tests so many times. Its a shame to burn so many of your products,Spencer remarks.

And its a two-way street, the Swede adds. European companies could learn a lot from American regulatory standards as well.

For example, one of our products is a railing we use for balconies,” Spencer explains. “But in the US it is only allowed for use on the ground floor because the top of it is flat. In the US railings have to be round so you cant put a glass on it or something.

Spencer says thats exactly the type of standard that Europe should adopt as well.

We would make safer and better products if we could use the best of both standards.

This article was produced by The Local in partnership with Svenskt Näringsliv, The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
3 asylum seekers arrested for sexual assaults at music fest
The Schlossgrabenfest in Darmstadt. Photo: DPA

Update: Twenty-six women have so far made complaints of sexual assaults at a musical festival that took place over the weekend in Darmstadt.

Dalai Lama says there are 'too many' refugees in Europe
The Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

The Dalai Lama said in an interview published Thursday that Europe has accepted "too many" refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.

Footballer Özil’s Mecca visit was unpatriotic, say AfD
Mesut Özil. Photo: DPA

When national football star Mesut Özil posted a picture of himself in Mecca on Facebook it received 21,000 ‘likes’. But Germany’s far right party see it is an act of provocation.

Star winger axed from Germany Euros squad
Marco Reus. Photo: DPA

Marco Reus endured more injury heartache with Germany on Tuesday - his 27th birthday - as he was cut from their final Euro 2016 squad, two years after missing the World Cup.

Every third child in Berlin now dependent on welfare
Photo: DPA

Child poverty is on the rise across Germany. But in the national capital and Bremen the situation is particularly severe.

Kraftwerk defeat makes Germany safe for DJs
A Kraftwerk stage show. File photo: DPA

Techno pioneers Kraftwerk have lost a near 20-year court battle over sampling - making the practice A-OK in Germany for the first time ever.

Hanover teen stabbed police officer 'on orders from Isis'
A police officer standing on a platform at Hanover main station. Photo: DPA

A 15-year-old girl who knifed a policewoman at Hanover's main train station in February may have been acting under orders from Isis terrorists, media reported on Tuesday.

Support for Merkel govt dips below 50 percent
Chancellor Angela Merkel (l) and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (r). Photo: DPA

Germany came in for a political first on Tuesday as a new poll showed combined support for Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government dropped below 50 percent for the first time.

Med rescuers share human cost of refugee crisis
A refugee boat capsizes in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast on May 25th, in an accident in which five people lost their lives. Photo: Marina Militare/Italian Navy/DPA

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: A photo of a dead migrant baby pulled from the Mediterranean was published by a charity hoping to force European leaders to grant migrants safe passage, after hundreds were presumed to have died at sea last week.

100 years since Germany tried to break UK's grip on the seas
An oil painting of the Battle of Jutland by Claus Bergen, on display in Germany's Naval Memorial in Laboe, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

100 years ago, the British and German navies met in the biggest sea battle in history off the Danish coast – one which has become as controversial and hard to make sense of as the First World War itself.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
The headless sex doll that put Lübeck police on high alert
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
5,833
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd