President Obama was hoping to get two trade agreements in the waning days of his administration.
However, this week the German Economy Minister stated the US-EU TTIP talks were “de facto dead”. The US-Asia TPP talks have been dead as a doorknob for some time.
Both deals were allegedly about free trade. In fact, neither was.
Nonetheless, that both deals died after years of negotiation is systematic of a bigger problem: rising protectionism everywhere, led by the US and EU.
Austria and France will on Friday propose ending the current round of trade talks between the United States and the European Union, and starting fresh talks under a new name, Austrian Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner said.
“The free trade talks with the USA should begin again under a new title and with different substantive headings,” including greater transparency, Mitterlehner told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper.
He said he and French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl would push for a new start to the WTO’s Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) at a meeting of EU trade ministers in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.
He said the talks should resume after the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8.
Fekl last month said he would request a halt to TTIP talks at the ministerial meeting after German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel declared that they were “de facto dead”.
The French minister told the Handeslblatt newspaper that the United States had demanded too much and not compromised enough.
“A crazy machine is moving here, the negotiations are a failure, nobody believes that they will come to a successful conclusion,” he was quoted as saying.
New Name Needed
Since a new name is needed, I invite readers to suggest some. I am drawing a blank. But I have to warn, manure by any other name still stinks.
A sweet trade agreement would fit on a napkin: “Effective immediately, we abolish all tariffs and subsidies.” Anything else is not free trade.
I would settle in a heartbeat for “Effective immediately, we abolish all tariffs”, whether or not any other country did the same.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock.