• 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
Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Law to force mums to give up identity of child's real father
Photo: DPA

Germany has drafted a law requiring mothers to inform their partners if their children were fathered by another man, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

Gallery
Germans race bulls too, but with a difference
Photo: DPA

The most important sporting events only happen every four years: the World Cup, the Olympics, and of course the Münsing ox race.

Attempted murder charge for Isis teen who stabbed cop
A police officer stands on a train platform at Hannover main station. Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Monday they had brought charges against a 16-year-old girl who allegedly stabbed a policeman in February in an operation for Isis.

Nearly 9,000 refugee children reported missing: report
Refugee children in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

German media reported on Monday that the number of refugee children reported as missing has doubled to reach nearly 9,000.

EU nations must not refuse Muslim migrants: Merkel
Photo: DPA

The refusal of some EU countries to accept Muslim refugees is "unacceptable", Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday as Germany called for quotas to divide the influx throughout the bloc.

Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
File photo: DPA

When a man swimming naked in a Bavarian lake felt a strange pain in his nether regions, he looked up to see a fisherman on the shore. "Don’t pull!" he shouted.

Study finds rival Rhineland beers 'actually taste the same'
Left: Altbier. Right: Kölsch. Or can you even tell? Photos: DPA.

Cologne and Düsseldorf have a long established rivalry, not least over who has the better home brew. So the results of a new study might be more than they can swallow.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
7,447
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd