Commission and US government urge Trump to have ‘political will’ on TTIP

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström [European Commission]

Ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, the European Commission and the US government told the incoming administration that the basis for TTIP has “only grown stronger” since talks over the deal started almost four years ago.

In a list-ditch bid to keep negotiations on the embattled Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership afloat, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said today (17 January) that the EU “left no stone unturned” in its tumultuous bid to seal the free trade agreement.

TTIP negotiations started in 2013 under Barack Obama but were tripped up by broad public protest to the deal in EU countries. Critics voiced concerns over the US’ lower levels of environmental and food protection and large multinational companies’ ability to challenge participating countries’ laws under the agreement.

US Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner told reporters last week that the tapering off of TTIP talks under his tenure is “probably going to be my biggest regret”.

Trump staff asked EU officials which countries will leave the EU next

Aides to US President-elect Donald Trump recently asked EU officials over the phone which countries will be next to leave the bloc after Britain, outgoing US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner said. Gardner was told about the conversations by EU institution staff members, but was not in on the calls.

In a report published jointly today, the Commission and the US government stressed that despite not closing a deal in four years, they still managed to seal some agreement on getting rid of tariffs and on regulatory practices.

“With continued engagement by both sides, and with the political will to prioritize long-term gains for our economies and our broader relationship, the United States and the EU could achieve what we set out to do in 2013: conclude an ambitious, balanced, comprehensive, and high-standard agreement that strengthens the transatlantic partnership and builds upon our economic relationship in ways that raise living standards and increase competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic,” the report read.

Trump victory could spell the end of TTIP

A protectionist US president and increased European suspicion of a Trump-led America undermine the prospects of a planned transatlantic free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, various stakeholders said.

Trump, who takes office on Friday (20 January), has signalled that he will be more protectionist on international trade and promised to rip up other free trade agreements.

He has so far not singled out TTIP, focusing much of his criticism of trade deals on China instead.

Anthony Scaramucci, one of Trump’s top advisors, said today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that China has to “allow us” to create better trade deals. Trump frequently referred to the North America Free Trade Agreement and the not-yet-ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership as damaging to American workers during his campaign.

Trump has nominated as US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who has argued for tougher actions against China’s trade practices. Peter Navarro, Trump’s nominee for another trade advisor post, has also been critical of China.

Trump advisor: 'EU bureaucrats have to pay more attention to the working class'

Anthony Scaramucci tried to soothe concerns triggered by Donald Trump, on Monday (16 December), as the US president-elect outlined his foreign policy agenda to British and German newspapers.