EU official hopeful for trade deal under Trump presidency

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2016 5:32 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior European Union official on Wednesday expressed hope that the incoming Trump administration will continue talks on a comprehensive free trade agreement with Europe.

EU Ambassador to the U.S. David O'Sullivan told a conference in Washington that he hopes that negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will go on despite President-elect Donald Trump's negative comments on trade. Trump has spoken out against various trade deals during the presidential campaign.

The Obama administration has been negotiating the agreement, also known as TTIP, for three years. TTIP aims to remove barriers to trade between the world's two largest economies, to boost economic growth and employment and harmonize labor, safety and environmental standards.

"We stand ready to continue these negotiations and bring them to successful conclusion," O'Sullivan told a conference on EU-U.S. relations. "We still think the objective arguments... in favor of a good trans-Atlantic deal remain valid."

O'Sullivan added that if trade talks were to resume next year, a deal could be reached in a year or two.

At the same time O'Sullivan noted that Trump has yet to formulate his position on TTIP. During a heated presidential campaign, where trade was a central issue, Trump has said that international deals cost Americans theirs jobs.

"We simply do not know in the light of everything that has been said about trade where this new administration will stand. So we are being respectful of that," he added.

Proponents of the agreement argue that lowering tariffs and harmonizing rules would give a much-needed boost to businesses at a time of global economic uncertainty. But trade unions, nationalists and green groups in Europe have lobbied hard against the deal. In the U.S., labor unions have complained that the deal is aimed at lowering, not improving standards.