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France to call for end to TTIP talks between EU and US

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France to call for end to TTIP talks between EU and US

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France is to call for an end to negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) at a meeting of foreign trade ministers in September.

Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl told RMC radio that France would call for a “pure, simple and definitive cessation of negotiations” in the Bratislava meeting. He said he would also demand an end to CETA, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

France effectively joins Germany, whose Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that talks on the trade deal being thrashed out between the European Commission and the US had “de facto failed.”

Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier was more cautious, but admitted work is needed. He said an agreement appears a long way away and confirmed the pace of the discussions remains unclear.

US and EU negotiators are pressing ahead, they say.

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas stressed progress was being made.

“Although trade talks take time, the ball is rolling right now and the Commission is making steady progress in the ongoing TTIP negotiations,” he said ahead of Fekl’s announcement.

“Talks are now indeed entering a crucial stage as we have proposals for almost all chapters on the table and a good sense about the outline of the future agreement.”

Negotiations are behind schedule, but delegates have expressed hope the US Congress will ratify the deal before President Obama leaves office in January. He has consistently supported the TTIP plan.

However Gabriel said the talks had little hope of reaching fruition either before or after the US election. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has criticised a number of the US’s trade agreements. Even Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who has been endorsed by Obama, has expressed concerns about certain trade deals.

Elsewhere, opponents have outlined a number of worries, including the potential environmental and economic impacts of the TTIP and CETA.

However France says its diminishing support lies with Washington, saying the US was giving nothing, or the bare minimum.

French President François Hollande told French ambassadors he wouldn’t support an agreement that would be concluded before the end of Obama’s mandate.

“The negotiations are bogged down,” he told them, “positions have not been respected, it’s clearly unbalanced.”

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