A senior government minister in Germany has cast doubt on the future of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) because of reluctance from the U.S. to make “any serious concessions”.
Germany’s Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, has accused the U.S. of having “hardly made any serious concessions” during the course of TTIP negotiations. According to The Independent, he warned that U.S. negotiators were mistaken if they believed “they can lure us Germans with concessions in the automotive sector.”
Of particular concern to Mr. Schmidt was the effect TTIP might have on his own ministerial brief. Covering food and agriculture in Chancellor Merkel’s government he declared:
“We won’t sacrifice our high food safety standards in a barter trade for approval of European car blinkers.”
Mr. Schmidt is not against compromising on some food areas. He told German newspaper Der Spiegel that “to seize the opportunities of free trade with the huge American market” some regional sausage and cheese makers may lose existing speciality protections offered under “very bureaucratic” European Union (EU) laws.
However, his comments do highlight a criticism of EU trade deals highlighted by leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson in a keynote speech earlier today. He said:
As for the argument that we need the muscle of EU membership, if we are to do trade deals – well, look, as I say, at the results after 42 years of membership. The EU has done trade deals with the Palestinian authority and San Marino. Bravo. But it has failed to conclude agreements with India,China or even America.
Why? Because negotiating on behalf of the EU is like trying to ride a vast pantomime horse, with 28 people blindly pulling in different directions. For decades deals with America have been blocked by the French film industry, and the current TTIP negotiations are stalled at least partly because Greek feta cheese manufacturers object to the concept of American feta. They may be right, aesthetically, but it should not be delaying us in this country…
…it is notable that even when the EU has done a trade deal, it does not always seem to work in Britain’s favour. In ten out of the last 15 deals, British trade with our partners has actually slowed down, rather than speeded up, after the deal was done.
Is that because of some defect in us, or in the deal? Could it be that the EU officials did not take account of the real interests of the UK economy, which is so different in structure from France and Germany? And might that be because the sole and entire responsibility for UK trade policy is in the hands of the EU commission – a body where only 3.6 per cent of the officials actually come from this country?
Despite President Obama’s hope that TTIP talks will be concluded before he vacates the White House at the end of his term in January, and Chancellor Merkel’s insistence she will “do everything to conclude the negotiations”, it looks increasingly likely that anti-TTIP campaigners will not have a tangible deal to fear for some time yet.