A much-debated trade deal between the European Union and the United States is not dead and negotiations will continue with the new US administration after November’s elections, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Saturday. A similar agreement between the EU and Canada can finally be signed on Sunday after resistance from Belgian local governments led to a last-minute blockade of the agreement which was seven years in the making.
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Paul Magnette, the premier of Belgium’s region of Wallonia who led opposition to the Canadian trade deal, told his parliament on Friday that with the concessions he managed to agree, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was “dead and buried”. Malmstrom said she disagreed with that assessment and work would continue with the new US administration.
“TTIP is not dead, but TTIP is not yet an agreement,” she told reporters after a ceremony in Brussels, in which Belgium signed its addendum to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. “The US election will naturally bring the negotiations to a pause and we will resume after with the new administration,” she added.
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Both TTIP and CETA have sparked demonstrations by unions and protest groups who say the agreements will lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in labour, environmental and public health standards and allow big business to challenge democratically elected governments across Europe.
Washington and Brussels were committed to sealing TTIP before President Barack Obama leaves office in January, but both sides now recognise that this will not happen. Some European politicians have called for TTIP talks to be halted and relaunched after the US presidential elections with greater transparency, clearer goals and a different name.
Malmstrom said lessons from the Canadian negotiations would aid in making a deal with the United States. “Some of the experiences, some of the procedures that we have experienced with CETA, will also be reflected in our work on TTIP,” she said.