American and European officials have made contradictory remarks about their negotiations over a proposed trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The US and the EU
have been negotiating the TTIP for three years and both had sought to agree to a deal this year.
A spokesman for US Trade Representative Michael Froman told Der Spiegel on Tuesday that talks on TTIP were progressing.
The tough trade talks have not broken down and the goal is still a deal by the time President Barack Obama leaves the White House, the EU trade commissioner said Tuesday after France cast doubt on the pact.
“I do not agree that TTIP negotiations have failed. They have been difficult, of course, we knew from the beginning, but they have not failed,” Cecilia Malmstroem said of the negotiations.
French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl had said Tuesday the current round of trade talks between the EU and the US must be halted.
He stressed that the negotiations were in favor of the Americans and that Washington was not willing to make any concessions.
Earlier on Tuesday, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said the US had effectively ended the talks because Washington had not wanted to compromise with its European counterparts.
“I believe that the Americans have actively ended TTIP. I don’t see any willingness to compromise with the Europeans,” Gabriel told a news
conference in Berlin.
He added that TTIP had no chance of being agreed before the US presidential election in November.
The stated goal of TTIP is promoting trade and multilateral economic growth but activists who oppose the agreement say it would only benefit multinationals and harm consumers.
Critics also say under the deal, US corporations could put excessive legal pressure on some EU states; a move that would have a “chilling” effect on legislators, forcing them to water down welfare protections.
Negotiations on the TTIP, which aims to create a free trade zone covering 850 million people, started back in 2013. The contentious accord was meant to be a legacy of Obama before he leaves the White House.