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US denounces ‘wrong’ views on TTIP leaks

By AFP 3 May 2016

The United States denounced Monday interpretations of leaked documents on its free-trade negotiations with the European Union, insisting the proposed trade pact would not weaken health and environmental standards.

“The interpretations being given to these texts appear to be misleading at best and flat out wrong at worst,” said a spokesman for the US Trade Representative (USTR), which is leading the negotiations with the European Commission.

Greenpeace, which is opposed to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, published online Monday 248 pages of what it said were classified documents from the negotiations that show the pact would weaken standards and protections for the benefit of corporate interests.

“TTIP will preserve, not undermine, our strong consumer, health, environmental standards, and position the US and the EU to work together to push standards higher around the world,” the USTR spokesman said in an emailed statement.

President Barack Obama’s administration has thrown all its weight behind achieving the trade deal before Obama second and final four-year term expires next January.

His spokesman, Josh Earnest, said Monday: “We are not particularly concerned about these purported leaks.”

Earnest’s counterpart at the State Department, John Kirby, reaffirmed that administration officials “still believe it’s possible” to deliver a deal before the end of Obama’s presidency. “We’re going to work very hard to that end,” he said.

Earlier, Monday the European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm, took a similar stance.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said “there seems to be quite a number of misconceptions floating around” about the “supposed leaks” on the ambitious treaty, which the US and European Union have been negotiating behind closed doors since mid-2013.

“It begs to be said, again and again: no EU trade agreement will ever lower our level of protection of consumers, or food safety, or of the environment,” Malmstroem said in a blog.

TTIP aims to topple regulatory and tariff barriers to trade and investment between the United States and Europe, open up the EU services sector and improve European access to US government procurement projects.

Negotiators wrapped up the latest round of talks in New York on Friday saying they had made significant progress targeting a deal by the end of the year.

vs/sg/mdl

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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