WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2016 - Reports of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s death have been greatly exaggerated, spokesmen on both sides of the Atlantic said Monday in response to an obituary delivered by German vice chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel.

In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” Gabriel said in a question-and-answer session with citizens in Berlin. The head of the country’s Social Democrats also said the two sides have not been able to agree on one item in the 27 chapters being negotiated.

But European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters on Monday that “the ball is rolling right now” in the talks between the U.S. and the 28 EU member nations (27 if you exclude the United Kingdom, whose citizens have voted to leave the EU).  

“Talks are entering a crucial stage and we have proposals for almost all chapters,” Schinas said.

On this side of the pond, U.S. Trade Representative spokesman Matt McAlvanah told Agri-Pulse, “As the European Commission pointed out (Monday) in response to Minister Gabriel, negotiations are in fact making steady progress. The nature of trade negotiations is that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to, so it is not at all surprising that T-TIP chapters have not been formally closed. (U.S.) Ambassador (Michael) Froman and his EU counterpart are set to meet in mid-September to take further stock of progress.”
He referred to a planned meeting next month between Froman, the U.S Trade Representative, and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in Bratislava, Slovakia.

The Trans-Atlantic Business Council also took issue with Gabriel’s comments, with the Council’s CEO Tim Bennett saying, “Nobody is under any false illusions as to how difficult it will be to conclude the T-TIP negotiations before the end of the Obama administration, but TABC members agree that such an effort should be made and fully support the firm commitment both governments have made to doing so.” TABC represents companies headquartered in the U.S. and Europe.

Schinas said that the European Commission, the EU’s governing body, “stands ready to close this deal by the end of the year.”

Opposition to the agreement is strong in Germany, where a poll in April showed only 17 percent support for T-TIP. Americans were only slightly more enthusiastic, but half of those responding said they didn’t know enough about the agreement to voice an opinion.


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