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“Cars will be cheaper with TTIP”

Iserlohn. Businessman Wolfgang Kirchhoff assumes prices will also be lower for other products after unifying the standards.

Cars will become cheaper in Germany after signing the TTIP free trade agreement to unify the standards and customs. This is the opinion of Wolfgang Kirchhoff, joint partner of the KIRCHHOFF Group in Iserlohn and Chief Operating Officer of KIRCHHOFF Automotive in Attendorn, which he stated during a meeting with CDU member of the state parliament Thorsten Schick. On Friday members of the state parliament were visiting companies in the region to get more information on the significance of the free trade agreement. For example, the CDU member of the state parliament Jens Kamieth visited machine and system builders SMS in Hilchenbach. Consumer protection supporters are opposing the TTIP storm because they expect lower environmental and hygiene standards in Europe.

The law of competition

“Cars from manufacturers who do business in Europe and the US, including Mercedes, BMW and VW, will become cheaper because the production costs will be lower,” explained Kirchhoff: Certain parts that protect the body from accidents such as bumper supports in front impacts, sill systems below the door and side impact protection systems in the door have to be planned, designed and built in duplicate because of the different standards and test conditions in the USA - and this will no longer be the case, according to the partner: “I believe prices will go down.”

Recently over 100,000 people protested against the planned TTIP free trade agreement. But regional employers are emphasising the opportunities.

Kirchhoff did not want to say whether this will be by a few hundred or thousand euros. It is a law of competition that lower purchasing and production costs are generally passed on to the consumer. “We are currently wasting money because, for example, we need different mirrors, indicators or rear lights for the US and Europe. Or because we have to comply with different safety regulations, for example crash tests,” complained Daimler boss Zetsche recently.

Double the work

In Kirchhoff’s opinion the prices on all products could be lower if they are currently produced using an EU and a US standard. Regional companies focusing on mechanical engineering, electricals, fittings and others would benefit from this. "In southern Westphalia this could protect thousands of jobs.” Kirchhoff said that the duplicate work for particular chassis parts currently takes 300 to 400 design hours for his company; the additional resource costs for tools and devices total EUR 700,000 to 2 million.

The US is pressing the gas in political terms to complete the negotiations for the disputed TTIP trade agreement and others. The US Congress has now given its approval.

The negotiators however should not take their time. If the Democratic Party were to lose the election in November 2016, the Republicans, who oppose the TTIP, would have control.

Stefan Pohl

(Source: WP/Der Westen)

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