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  • There is waning support for the TTIP among Europeans.

    There is waning support for the TTIP among Europeans. | Photo: AFP

Published 30 August 2016
Opinion

The much-maligned trade deal was meant to have been sealed before Obama leaves office in January. 

A free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States is in doubt after France announced that it would formally request a halt to negotiations at a meeting with EU trade ministers next month.

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“The Americans give nothing or just crumbs ... that is not how negotiations are done between allies,” French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl said on Tuesday as he announced that the formal petition to stop talks will be submitted before the European Commission.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, was meant to be sealed before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in January. However, recent developments along with the uncertainty of the November elections in the U.S. and the Brexit may have changed the plans.

"Everything is moving. In this situation it's just not going to happen," said Peter van Ham, senior research fellow at Dutch think tank Clingendael and author of a paper on Tuesday called "TTIP is dead, long live transatlantic trade."

The French position backs recent statements by Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who said that Obama’s free trade agreement with the EU "is going nowhere," stressing that talks between Brussels and Washington “have de facto failed. "

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Negotiations are now expected to be held after the U.S. election in November, which could change the political landscape in Washington as protectionist rhetoric has driven the political debate between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The TTIP aims to create a free trade zone covering 850 million people with supporters claiming that it will boost the EU's economy by US$130 billion and the U.S. economy by US$100 billion. However, it has been criticized and opposed by unions, NGOs and environmentalists on both sides of the Atlantic.

"The fact that TTIP has failed is testament to the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against it, the three million people who signed a petition calling for it to be scrapped, and the huge coalition of civil society groups, trade unions, progressive politicians and activists who came together to stop it. TTIP would have resulted in a massive corporate power grab, and sovereign democracies across the EU would have been deeply compromised," said Kevin Smith, a spokesperson for campaign group Global Justice Now. "TTIP would have resulted in a massive corporate power grab, and sovereign democracies across the EU would have been deeply compromised."

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