Saturday 18 November 2017

Kenny wants controversial EU-US trade deal wrapped up 'by end of this year'

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

Paul O'Donoghue

The Taoiseach has called for a controversial EU trade agreement with the US to be agreed by the end of 2015.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US that would create the world's largest free-trade zone. Proponents argue that it would result in more trading and economic growth while those against say it would make it difficult for national governments to regulate markets.

Speaking at the US Embassy in Dublin's annual economic conference yesterday, Mr Kenny said that it is important that the agreement "should be concluded by 2015 if at all possible. The American election process kicks in after that and it would make it more difficult."

He added: "Insofar as assuring the [US] President of Ireland's contribution to this, we have made it perfectly clear that we will work with our European colleagues and American connections to get this across the line."

The terms of the agreement were originally expected to be finalised by the end of 2014 after receiving support from, among others, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

However, a strong lobby against the deal has managed to make the subject somewhat toxic in parts of Europe, including Germany where thousands took to the streets during the weekend to oppose the trade talks.

Officials now fear that opposition could delay approval of the TTIP until after President Obama leaves office in 2017.

The agreement has also been viewed with scepticism by some in Ireland, with the Irish Medical Organisation recently claiming that it could help tobacco firms in their fight against plain packaging.

The IMO claims a transnational arbitration system to be set up under the TTIP could allow tobacco companies to bypass national governments and Irish courts.

However, the proposals have been strongly backed by the Coalition, which claims the deal would be a major boost for the economy.

A recent report commissioned by the Government claimed that the TTIP could boost the economy by just over 1pc, or roughly €2bn within three to five years of a deal being sealed and add up to 10,000 jobs in exporting sectors.

Irish Independent

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