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Published: Tue, August 30, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

EU, German officials play down reports of trade talk failure

EU, German officials play down reports of trade talk failure

Officials conceded that opposition to trade agreements is building on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Rather than rushing into activities, we should perhaps first take time to think about what we, as the 27 countries, must do better, " she said, adding that this was the direction that talks with partner countries were going in.

The European Commission "stands ready to close this deal by the end of the year, spokesman Margaritis Schinas said in Brussels on Monday".

The comments come after Germany's economy minister and vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said over the weekend that talks to forge a trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - had all but collapsed.

In this June 29, 2015 file picture Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel briefs the media about the Greece crisis, at the chancellery in Berlin.

The European Union's long-planned trade deal with the United States has collapsed with negotiations showing no sign of progress despite three years' of talks, according to Germany's economy minister.

"The talks with the USA have de facto failed because we Europeans of course must not succumb to American demands", he told public broadcaster ZDF.

On the record, US and European officials say they are continuing to move forward with talks and stress the importance of the TTIP to their economies.

Germany's governing left-right coalition is divided over TTIP.

Gabriel is Germany's minister for Economic Affairs and Energy and also deputy to Chancellor Angela Merkel. While Merkel and President Barack Obama have pushed for a deal this year, Gabriel has previously suggested the talks would fail unless the USA makes concessions to European Union negotiators. The U.K. would have been up to £10 billion a year better off under TTIP if it had stayed within the European Union, according to the U.K. business group the Confederation of British Industry.

"TTIP shouldn't be allowed to fall victim to the incipient election campaign", Matthias Wissmann, head of Germany's VDA auto industry association, said in a statement on the group's website.

The European Commission, which is leading the negotiations on behalf of EU states, insists a deal is still possible by the end of 2016.

"But as President Juncker has said, and I quote, "the Commission will not sacrifice Europe's safety, health, social and data protection standards or our cultural diversity on the altar of free trade".

USA president Barrack Obama previously stated that if the deal is not completed now it will be years before a trade deal can be negotiated, given a schedule of elections in the United States and across Europe.

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