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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"The Americans Give Us Nothing": France Effectively Kills TTIP, Calls For End To Negotiations

Just two days after Germany's outspoken vice chancellor (who has over the past 48 hours slammed not just Merkel's refugee policy but also Brexit negotiation demands), announced that Obama's transatlantic trade treaty, the TTIP, is dead, saying negotiations have failed because "we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to American demands", France voiced its support to the German position when the French trade minister on Tuesday called for an end to trade negotiations between the European Union and the U.S., the firmest sign yet of opposition in Europe to what would be the most ambitious trade deal in decades.
Matthias Fekl, cited by the WSJ, said on French radio that “France no longer politically supports these negotiations,” adding that “The Americans are giving us nothing. This is not how allies should be negotiating.” Fekl said he would ask the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, at a meeting of trade ministers late September to end negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, generally known as TTIP. The Commission leads talks with the U.S. for the EU.
"There should be an absolute clear end so that we can restart them on good basis," he said on RMC Radio, adding he would suggest that course to fellow ministers.
Fekl echoed the position of Germany's econ minister Gabriel who said on Sunday that TTIP negotiations had effectively failed after Europe refused to accept some U.S. demands. Gabriel is the chairman of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD), who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.
While many German Social Democrats have serious reservations about TTIP but Merkel backs the talks: her spokesman insisted on Monday that talks should continue, while Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier - also a member of the SPD - said on Tuesday that both sides were still far away from agreeing on standards and procedures.
However, with the French veto it seems that Merkel is now out of luck.
Fekl’s comments show how skepticism of trade deals is surging on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.S., President Barack Obama faces a tough battle in Congress to pass another major trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders bolstered their support during the presidential race by strongly opposing trade deals, putting pressure on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to adopt a more skeptical stance on trade.

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