EU scrambles to salvage US trade deal
By Alex Pigman, AFP
September 24, 2016, 12:22 am TWN
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia--European trade ministers scrambled Friday to salvage talks on a massive free trade deal with the U.S. amid angry calls that Europe abandon negotiations.
Ministers from the EU's 28-member states meeting in Bratislava are attempting to patch over deep differences after tens of thousands of demonstrators thronged European cities demanding the EU walk away from the U.S. accord.
"From our point of view, the talks are effectively suspended, because meaningful negotiations are no longer taking place," said Reinhold Mitterlehner, the economy minister from Austria, where opposition to the deal is fierce.
"It would be wise to put on mute something that is perceived so negatively," he added, confirming a position Austria shares with France, the EU's third biggest economy.
The ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) — as the free trade deal between the European Union and United States is known — would create the world's biggest market of 850 million consumers stretching from Hawaii to Lithuania.
But defending free trade deals has become increasingly fraught for leaders, with the rise of populists such as U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump blaming globalization for stolen jobs and falling wages.