France seeks halt to EU-US trade talks

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

FRANCE said yes­ter­day it will call on the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to sus­pend ne­go­ti­a­tions on a mas­sive trade deal be­tween the Euro­pean Union and the United States, which it com­plained are un­fairly weighted in favour of the Amer­i­cans.

“There is no more po­lit­i­cal sup­port in France for these ne­go­ti­a­tions” and “France calls for an end to these ne­go­ti­a­tions,” ju­nior min­is­ter for trade Matthias Fekl said.

The EU and the US be­gan work on the Transat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship in 2013, aim­ing to cre­ate the world’s largest free-trade area by the time Pres­i­dent Barack Obama leaves of­fice in Jan­uary.

But the talks have got bogged down amid wide­spread sus­pi­cion in the 28-na­tion EU that a deal would un­der­cut the bloc’s stan­dards in key ar­eas such as health and wel­fare.

The set­backs have raised se­ri­ous doubts that it will be achieved by the end of the year as hoped.

Mr Fekl said there is an im­bal­ance in the ne­go­ti­a­tions in favour of the US.

“The Amer­i­cans give noth­ing or just crumbs ... That is not how ne­go­ti­a­tions are done be­tween al­lies,” he said. “We need a clear and de­fin­i­tive halt to these ne­go­ti­a­tions in or­der to restart on a good foun­da­tion.”

France will make this case at a meet­ing of for­eign trade min­is­ters in Bratislava in Septem­ber.

France’s Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls has pre­vi­ously said it would be “im­pos­si­ble” for the two sides to con­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions by the end of this year.

And Ger­many’s Vice Chan­cel­lor and Econ­omy Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel had said that the ne­go­ti­a­tions were ef­fec­tively dead in the wa­ter.

“The talks with the US have de facto failed be­cause we Euro­peans of course must not suc­cumb to Amer­i­can de­mands. Noth­ing is mov­ing for­ward,” he said.

But the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion on Au­gust 29 re­jected the Ger­man claims and in­sisted the talks re­mained on track. –

Photo: AFP

Ger­man econ­omy min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel (right) says the TTIP talks are ef­fec­tively dead in the wa­ter.

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