US-EU trade deal ‘frozen’ af­ter vote

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

BRUS­SELS: Talks on a vast free-trade deal be­tween the EU and US are likely to be “frozen” for years af­ter the stun­ning elec­tion vic­tory of Don­ald Trump, the EU said yes­ter­day. US pres­i­dent-elect Trump cam­paigned fu­ri­ously on a prom­ise to scrap in­ter­na­tional trade deals, throw­ing the am­bi­tious pact with the Euro­pean Union into se­ri­ous doubt. Brus­sels and Wash­ing­ton tried to get the Transat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship (TTIP) through by the time Barack Obama left of­fice but fell short.

“TTIP will prob­a­bly be in the freezer for quite some time and then what will hap­pen when it is de­frosted, I think we will need to wait and see,” EU Trade Com­mis­sioner Ce­cilia Malm­stroem said af­ter trade min­is­ters held talks in Brus­sels. “We don’t know what he thinks about TTIP,” Malm­stroem said, re­fer­ring to Trump, al­though she ac­knowl­edged that the brash bil­lion­aire was clearly op­posed to big trade deals.

TTIP has been un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion since 2013 and was sup­posed to be one of the most am­bi­tious free trade ac­cords ever at­tempted. It would cre­ate the world’s biggest free trade mar­ket of 850 mil­lion con­sumers stretch­ing from Hawaii to Lithua­nia.

But it had at­tracted in­creas­ing op­po­si­tion in Europe, where vot­ers have grown in­creas­ingly du­bi­ous to the ben­e­fits of glob­al­iza­tion. The stalled talks come as a huge set­back to Europe’s trade strat­egy with a sim­i­lar deal with Canada fac­ing an un­cer­tain rat­i­fi­ca­tion process and dif­fi­cult talks ex­pected next year with the UK over Brexit.

“These (TTIP) ne­go­ti­a­tions... are dead and I think every­body knows it even though lots of peo­ple don’t want to ad­mit it yet,” said French Trade Min­is­ter Matthias Fekl af­ter talks in Brus­sels with his EU coun­ter­parts. “Never mind who is pres­i­dent in the US, what is im­por­tant is that Europe ... af­firms it­self as a global player as the most im­por­tant com­mer­cial en­tity in the world,” Fekl added.

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