Protest against US and Canada trade deals kick off in Brus­sels

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

SEV­ERAL thou­sand de­mon­stra­tors gath­ered out­side EU in­sti­tu­tions in Brus­sels to protest against huge transAt­lantic trade deals link­ing Europe with Canada and the United States.

The protests came af­ter mass ral­lies in Ger­man cities on Septem­ber 17 against the Euro­pean Union’s planned Transat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship (TTIP) with the United States, and the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment (CETA) with Canada.

Bel­gian po­lice told AFP that over 5000 peo­ple re­sponded to the call in the EU cap­i­tal, with most of the main avenues around the Euro­pean Commission, the EU’s ex­ec­u­tive arm, closed off to traf­fic.

“TTIP, CETA, we don’t want them,” pro­test­ers shouted, as po­lice he­li­copters hov­ered loudly over­head.

“We are sure to be the big losers. This will be a shock to agri­cul­ture,” said farmer Stephane Del­ogne.

The EU and US be­gan ne­go­ti­at­ing TTIP in 2013, aim­ing to cre­ate the world’s big­gest free trade mar­ket of 850 mil­lion con­sumers.

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

A new round of talks is due in Oc­to­ber, with US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama hop­ing a deal can be con­cluded be­fore he leaves of­fice in Jan­uary.

Ce­cilia Malm­stroem, the EU com­mis­sioner for trade, warned that reach­ing that dead­line “be­came less likely as time went on”.

“There will a treaty with the US but maybe af­ter a nat­u­ral pause to give time to a new ad­min­is­tra­tion in the US,” Ms Malm­stroem told RTBF ra­dio in Bel­gium.

Ms Malm­stroem also de­fended the Canada deal, which has al­ready been ne­go­ti­ated and is due for sig­na­ture in Oc­to­ber. –

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