World Economy

TTIP Talks Flop

Protesters rallying against the TTIP and CETA free trade agreements march in April 2016.Protesters rallying against the TTIP and CETA free trade agreements march in April 2016.

Germany’s economy minister says free trade talks between the European Union and the United States have failed.

Negotiations on the so-called Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, have made little progress in recent years, AP reported.

Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s Vice Chancellor, said Sunday that “in my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.”

He noted that in 14 rounds of talks the two sides haven’t agreed on a single common chapter out of 27 chapters being discussed.

At the time the talks were thought to be in trouble with a number of leading European politicians expressing concern about TTIP’s effects and the US’s reluctance to accept changes to the proposed deal.

Gabriel compared the TTIP negotiations unfavorably with a free trade deal forged between the EU and Canada, which he said was fairer for all sides.

If the controversial TTIP deal is approved it will be one of the most important US President Barack Obama’s achievements. However, the deal has faced significant opposition from European companies, EU and some American politicians. Currently, the deal is unlikely to be approved before the US presidential election in November, Sputnik reported.

The TTIP was expected to become one of the most important achievements of Obama. This milestone deal would connect the two biggest markets in the world and bolster US leadership in writing the rules of global trade, an article by the Carnegie Moscow Center think-tank read.

If the deal is approved the US will be in the center of a new geo-economic structure while other nations will have to find ways to join the US-led blocs.

Since the beginning of the talks, Europe has been very concerned because of their secrecy. Only European governmental officials, EU bureaucrats and representatives of major corporations were allowed to attend the negotiations.

After Greenpeace published over 200 pages of the preliminary text of the deal (14 chapters) on May 2, 2016 the number of TTIP opponents sharply increased.

French President Francois Hollande harshly criticized the deal, saying that France will not accept a trade deal that goes against “essential principles.”

European farmers and agricultural lobbyists are the most active opponents of the TTIP deal. This issue is especially important for French and Italian farmers. They fear that if the deal is approved the European market will be flooded with cheaper US products.