Hollande says no TTIP deal by year-end

Paris, Aug 30 (IANS) French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday said negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), between the European Union and the United States cannot yield an agreement by the end of this year.

“The discussions on TAFTA (Transatlantic Free Trade Area) for some, TTIP for others, cannot result in an agreement by the end of the year and France cannot approve it,” Hollande told diplomats.

The EU and US began work on the TTIP in 2013, a proposed free trade deal, aiming to create the world’s largest free trade area and promoting multilateral growth.

Matthias Fekl, the French Minister for Foreign Trade, tweeted that his government demanded negotiations on the TTIP should cease.

“There is no more political support in France for these negotiations and France calls for an end to these negotiations,” Fekl also told RMC radio.

“The Americans give nothing, or just crumbs. We need a clear and definitive stop to these negotiations to start again on good bases,” he added.

France has been sceptical about TTIP and has threatened to block the deal, arguing the US has offered little in return for concessions made by Europe. All 28 EU member states and the European parliament will have to ratify TTIP before it comes into force.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s centre-left Economy Minister, has said that the negotiations have failed “as we Europeans do not want to subject ourselves to American demands”.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last month that the proposed US-EU deal was “absolutely in Europe’s interest”.

The TTIP negotiations were planned to be finalised by January 2017 but were bogged down over the terms of the agreement, rising opposition to the deal in France and Germany and more recently Britain’s shock vote to leave the EU.

According to the European Commission, the TTIP would boost the EU’s economy by 120 billion euros, the US economy by 90 billion euros and the rest of the world by 100 billion euros.

Spokesman for the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, said talks had not stalled. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel: “Negotiations are in fact making steady progress.”

–IANS

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