Business

TTIP trade talks 'likely to stop', warns French minister

Protesters rally in Germany against TTIP Image copyright Sascha Schuermann
Image caption Thousands of protesters rallied against TTIP when President Obama visited Germany last month

Talks between the US and EU over the wide-ranging TTIP trade deal are likely to grind to a halt, according to France's trade minister.

Matthias Fekl said a freeze in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks was the "most likely option" without a change from the US.

The French minister, who threatened to leave talks last year, said Europe was offering a lot with little in return.

It comes a day after Greenpeace leaked documents from the talks.

The environmental group released 248 pages of classified documents, which it said showed how EU standards on public health risked being undermined by the major free-trade agreement.

Image copyright ROSLAN RAHMAN
Image caption Matthias Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, warned in September that France could walk away from TTIP talks

'Bad deal'

Mr Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, said a halt seemed to be the most likely option "in view of the United States' state of mind today".

"It is an agreement which, as it would be today, would be a bad deal," he said in a French radio interview.

TTIP could "unravel" the international climate change deal agreed in Paris last year, he warned.

France is also concerned TTIP does not offer safeguards for French agriculture or better access for its small and medium-sized companies in the US, he said.

"It cannot be agreed without France and even less so against France," he said.

In September, Mr Fekl said France was considering all options including an outright termination of negotiations.

Exports

The latest TTIP negotiating round took place last week and the European Commission says it hopes to achieve a deal later this year. That could avoid any political risk posed by the US presidential election in November.

TTIP, which must be approved by all 28 EU countries, would harmonise regulations across a huge range of business sectors, potentially providing a boost to exporters on both sides of the Atlantic.

The potential gains for the EU could be up to €119bn (£94bn; $137bn) a year and €95bn for the US, according to European economic think tank, the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

However, campaigners have warned that it favours big business and would lead to weaker regulation.

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