Jul 4, 2016
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EU aiming to complete TTIP negotiations despite Brexit

Jul 4, 2016

The European Union’s top trade official has said that she is still aiming to complete negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US this year, despite Britain deciding to leave the 28-nation bloc.

Speaking at an event in Washington, EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom reiterated that both sides would strive to wrap up talks on the TTIP before President Obama leaves the White House in January 2017.

Malmstrom noted that Britain is still part of the EU, and the formal exit process could take some time.

“We will do whatever we can to make sure that we make as much progress as possible in the coming month, and, if possible, conclude it before the Obama administration leaves office,” Malmström said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington. “That is still the ‘Plan A’ and that has not changed even if the (British) referendum is there.”

According to trade experts, Britain’s impending departure from the EU will dash hopes for completing TTIP in the final months of Obama’s term, cutting out Europe’s second-largest economy and diverting attention and political capital to sorting out the UK-EU relationship.

But Malmström insisted that the TTIP deal would survive the Brexit decision. Last Tuesday, (June 28), she met US Trade Representative Michael Froman in Washington to make preparations for the 14th round of TTIP negotiations in Brussels that begins on July 11.

“There are a lot of uncertainties related to Brexit. We can’t answer them now we will have to wait until we see a clearer picture,” she said. “But for now and for the immediate future, the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, and we negotiate this on behalf of all 28 members.”

EU prime ministers and heads of state have affirmed that the bloc’s trade agenda, which includes TTIP and a number of other prospective trade deals, would continue.

She said EU negotiators who are British citizens will continue to participate in the talks, adding, “They do not work for the UK, they work for the European Union and they will stay.”

The anticipated trade agreement between the US and EU aims to help businesses do more transatlantic deals and transactions, cut tariffs and harmonize regulatory standards.

TTIP has been under fire in EU countries over fears that it would open up Europe’s health, education and water services to American companies, endanger food and environmental safety, and smooth the way for companies to sue governments.

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