Close Brothers Invoice Finance is advising its SME clients to be aware of the impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on their businesses.

Only 39% of 900 of Close Brothers’ small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) clients are aware of the possible implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), according to Close Brothers. The trade agreement between the US and the European Union is set to be finalised by the end of 2016.

Despite the recent vote for the UK to leave the EU, negotiations are unlikely to be concluded before the TTIP is ratified. The TTIP is likely to become law before a UK withdrawal, and many SMEs are unaware of what this may mean, said Close Brothers.

Of the SMEs that are aware of TTIP negotiations, 38% believe the deal will have a positive effect on their business. 24% believe the effects could be negative, while a further 38% revealed that they were not yet sure what TTIP could mean for them.

“SMEs are not yet clear about the potential impact of the TTIP. For one thing, not enough businesses are yet aware that this is a significant issue,” said David Thomson, chief executive officer, Close Brothers Invoice Finance.

Among firms that are aware of the TTIP, however, there is significant disagreement over its likely implications for British business.

While business groups hope the deal will be positive for British companies exporting to the US, others fear this favours large companies. This advantage is the major worry for firms concerned about the TTIP.

There are also fears that it will have a negative impact on British firms, who are subject to greater regulation than their American counterparts.

“The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer suggests SMEs need to do some serious thinking over the next few months,” added Thomson.

“And while the EU referendum may have been distracting, it would be a mistake to think that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will mean our businesses no longer need to consider the TTIP relevant to them.”