Exclusive Exclusive: German Economics Minister Calls on U.S. to Make Concessions in TTIP Talks

The United States must accept higher consumer, environmental and labor standards for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to move forward, German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Handelsblatt in an exclusive interview. “After three years of negotiations, we have to finally get some results or at least take honest stock of where the negotiations stand,” Mr. Gabriel said. The current round of trade talks, the 14th round between U.S. and E.U. negotiators, began on Monday and run through Friday. Negotiators aim to work out the key points of a trade deal before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in January. Otherwise, the talks could drag on for years. But so far, the United States hasn’t budged on key areas of concern to E.U. member states, such as the controversial investor-state dispute settlement courts and opening the U.S. public procurement market to greater competition. Activists and elected officials in Europe have expressed concern that the current investor courts could be used by multinational companies to undermine European regulations. The European Union has proposed a more transparent, permanent international court to settle investor-state disputes, but the U.S. so far hasn’t moved on the proposal from Brussels. Mr. Gabriel said the courts cannot become “an instrument of politically and economically motivated suits.” “Our demands – preserving the right of our democratically legitimated parliaments to make regulations and introducing fair competition in the U.S. public procurement process – must be fulfilled,” he said. Mr. Gabriel also warned the German federal government would have to “honestly evaluate” where the talks stand if the United States didn’t make concessions. E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has also made clear that there will be not be a scaled back deal, a so-called “TTIP light.” Brussels would wait to negotiate with the next U.S. government, she said. Picture Source: DPA