Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

US 'open' to new talks on free trade pact

  • Trump has been pursuing a protectionist trade policy (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The US is open to resuming talks on the stalled free trade deal with the European Union, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday (31 May).

"It's no mistake that, while we withdrew from TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership], we did not withdraw from TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership]," Ross told the CNBC broadcaster.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The EU is one of our largest trading partners, and any negotiations legally must be conducted at the EU level and not with individual nations," he said.

"Thus, it makes sense to continue TTIP negotiations and to work towards a solution that increases overall trade while reducing our trade deficit,” he added.

Ross’s comments came as US president Donald Trump complained on Monday about Germany’s trade surplus with the US and vowed to correct the imbalances.

"We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change," Trump tweeted.

The US trade deficit with the EU for 2016 was $146.3 billion (€131b), while in the first three months of this year it stood at $32.1 billion, according to official US data.

The US president also vented his frustration over Germany’s trade policy and Nato allies’ spending when he met EU leaders last week.

His behaviour prompted German chancellor Angela Merkel to warn that Europe could no longer rely on its allies and needed to take its fate into its own hands.

EU cautious

During Merkel’s visit to Washington in March, the chancellor attempted to convince Trump to revive TTIP.

Merkel reportedly spelled out to Trump that he cannot do individual deals with EU members and that the US administration would have to negotiate with Brussels.

Ross later told the Financial Times, a British newspaper, that the US is open to revive talks on TTIP, adding that Europe will have to compete with with China and Japan to show willingness to do the first deal with the new US administration.

But despite his statement, Merkel's economic minister Brigitte Zypries last week said “it is not likely the US will resume negotiations over TTIP".

Launched in 2013, talks on the trade deal stalled after Trump came into office in January, pursuing a more protectionist US trade policy.

The EU has been cautious over American overtures on the trade deal, and accelerated discussions to agree on free trade with Japan and to reform an older trade accord with Mexico.

Last month EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem met with Ross saying she wants “clarity" that both sides "share an ambition to find solutions to difficult issues” under TTIP.

Malmstroem reiterated that at the Brussels Business Forum last week, arguing that the EU needs time “to evaluate and reflect”.

“We both need a bit more time, and to know there was shared ambition and common ground,” she said.

Among his first acts as president, Trump withdrew the US from another major trade agreement, TPP, which 12 countries had signed in the Asia-Pacific region.

Earlier this month Asia-Pacific trade ministers agreed to try to revive TPP without the US.

TTIP's future in Trump's hands

EU commissioners admit they "frankly don't know" what the US president-elect intends to do with the US-EU trade talks.

EU admits 'unrealistic' to close TTIP deal this year

EU trade ministers said it was not realistic to finalise talks on the TTIP trade treaty before the end of the year. But they agreed to a similar deal with Canada and will take steps to have it ratified.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks