Germany’s Vice Chancellor Gabriel: US-EU trade talks ‘have failed’


Free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States have failed, according to Germany’s Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. After three years of talks, an agreement has yet to be reached.

Discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been unsuccessful, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, who is also the country’s vice chancellor, said on Sunday.

“In my opinion the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” Gabriel told German broadcaster ZDF.

“Nothing is moving,” he added.

If agreed upon, TTIP would create the world’s largest free trade zone containing 800 million people. Three years of talks have still not led to an agreement, with negotiators facing tough criticism of the deal on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Minister for Economic Affairs                  “Nothing’s moving” on a TTIP agreement, said Sigmar Gabriel

Gabriel, who also heads the Social Democrats (SPD), noted that after 14 rounds of talks, the two sides have yet to agree on even one chapter out of the 27 being discussed.

One of the reasons given for the breakdown in negotiations was that “we Europeans did not want to subject ourselves to American demands,” Gabriel said.

CETA defense

In contrast to his TTIP stance, Gabriel defended the EU’s free trade agreement with Canada, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA.)

“The debate has become very difficult in that the agreement with Canada and the one with the USA have been lumped together,” Gabriel said, adding that this assumption is incorrect.

He praised the Canadian agreement, saying it was fairer for both sides.

Many Germans continue to harbor suspicions against the TTIP and CETA, but the Canadian-European deal is much further advanced and could be ratified in the near future. German trade unions and other organizations have called for a massive rally across German cities on September 17 to protest the two trade agreements.

Supporters of the TTIP hope to lock down the outlines of an agreement before France and Germany’s general elections in 2017 and before US President Barack Obama leaves office at the end of 2016.

rs/jlw (AP, dpa, Reuters)