EU-US trade deal will not happen this year, says Francois Hollande
Published 30/08/2016 | 11:16
French President Francois Hollande has said talks on a landmark trade deal between the US and the European Union are bogged down, unbalanced and cannot be completed this year.
Mr Hollande said in a speech: "The best thing is for us to lucidly note this, instead of extending a discussion that cannot be completed on this basis.
"France prefers to look things in the face."
His trade chief said earlier that France wants to halt talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which the socialist French government sees as too friendly to US business.
Mr Hollande said: "These discussions cannot result in an agreement by the end of the year. The negotiations have bogged down, the positions have not been respected, the imbalance is obvious."
It is the latest blow to the proposed free-trade zone that would encompass half the world's economy. There is resistance on both continents, and the talks are complicated by Britain's planned exit from the 28-nation EU and upcoming presidential elections in the US and France.
On Sunday, German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said: "In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it."
Mr Hollande's trade chief, Matthias Fekl, accused the American side of offering just "crumbs". He said France will ask the European Commission at a meeting in Slovakia next month to halt talks on TTIP
Mr Fekl, France's secretary of state for foreign trade, said talks could resume if wider EU-US trade relations improved.
"We need a clear, clean, definitive halt to negotiations to be able to resume on a good basis," he said on RMC radio, without elaborating on what conditions would be necessary.
Chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero played down Mr Gabriel's talk of failure, and in Washington, Matt McAlvanah, assistant US trade representative for public affairs, insisted the negotiations "are in fact making steady progress".