German Official Says U.S.-Europe Trade Talks Have Collapsed, Blames Washington
Sep 09 2016
Matthias Fekl, France's minister for foreign trade, tweeted on Tuesday morning that his government demanded a halt of negotiations on the deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The future of the proposed free trade deal between the USA and European Union was dealt a further blow on Tuesday when France's foreign trade minister said his country wanted an end to the negotiations.
The TTIP aims to create a free trade zone covering 850 million people with supporters claiming that it will boost the EU's economy by US$130 billion and the USA economy by US$100 billion.
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Though the office of the U.S Trade Representative on Monday said efforts to seal a trade deal between the us and the European Union were still "making steady progress", the attempt to put an optimistic spin on the struggling negotiations was undermined once again on Tuesday as France's financial minister called for the outright suspension of talks.
But the prospect of a Brexit has triggered fresh doubt that TTIP could be completed in the final months of President Barack Obama's term, as well as over Britain's exact status in any deal as London ponders its future ties with the EU.
A wave of protests has taken place across Europe since the beginning of the talks in 2013.
In response to Gabriel's comments, a spokesman for the EU Commission said Monday that the bloc's executive was determined to continue negotiations.
The centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) led by Gabriel is increasingly sceptical, while Chancellor Angela Merkel and her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) remain largely in favour. The deal is now being hammered out by European Union and USA officials. One of the main concerns is that the deal would give companies legal rights that are more powerful than those of individual states due to TTIP's investor-state dispute settlement' (IDIS) mechanism.
"I do not agree that TTIP negotiations have failed".
Gabriel noted that in 14 rounds of talks on the massive trans-Atlantic pact, the two sides haven't agreed on a single common item out of 27 chapters being discussed.
The European Commission, which is carrying out the talks on the Europe Union's behalf, on Monday responded to Gabriel's comments by saying the talks are making progress and are entering a crucial stage.
"At the last [summit], precisely because we were entering this hard and complex stage, President Juncker addressed his counterparts, checking whether there was political backing to conclude the deal by the end of the year", Schinas said.