FRANKFURT: Negotiations on a US-EU free trade deal “will fail” if the US refuses to make concessions, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned on Sunday ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama.
“The Americans want to hold fast to their ‘Buy American’ idea. We can’t accept that. They don’t want to open their public tenders to European companies. For me, that goes against free trade,” Gabriel, who is also Germany’s deputy chancellor, told business newspaper Handelsblatt.
“If the Americans hold fast to this position, we don’t need the free trade treaty. And TTIP will fail,” he warned.
The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has run into major opposition in Europe, not least in Germany, where critics have raised the specter of eroding ecological and labor market standards and condemned the secrecy shrouding the negotiations.
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated Saturday against the trade pact in the northern city of Hanover, where Obama is to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit intended to boost efforts to finalize the accord before he leaves office.
On a visit to London on Saturday, Obama sought to address skeptics’ fears head-on, admitting that some past trade agreements had “served the interests of large corporations and not necessarily of workers in the countries that participate in them.”