Via Skype, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross participated in a lunch with the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in New York on Tuesday. The US is Sweden’s most important trade partner outside the EU, and Wilbur Ross says he is prepared to resume the paused TTIP negotiations.
Sweden’s Minister for Enterprise Mikael Damberg also participated in the lunch and will meet Wilbur Ross today, Thursday. He does not share Wilbur Ross’s views of TTIP but says, “even if we have different views, it is important for us in the government to develop a relationship with this American administration”.
Wilbur Ross points out the major trade deficit – last year Sweden sold SEK 87 billion worth of goods and services to the US but imported only SEK 37 billion worth – although says, “We share many of our values with Sweden and have huge respect for the technical knowledge in the country.”
French President François Hollande does not intend to support a trade deal with the USA in its present form, he said at a press conference and demanded that negotiations end.
His comments have surprised European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who says, “The negotiations are underway and I have a telephone meeting with the USA’s trade minister today.”
According to Matthias Fekl, France’s trade minister, there is no longer political support for the negotiations and he is planning to propose, at the meeting of trade ministers in Bratislava in September, that the negotiations are ended so that they can start again on a solid foundation. This comes several days after German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel claimed negotiations had stranded.
Malmström says: “You must remember that in France and Germany, but also in Austria and Belgium, there is very strong opposition to TTIP, and that is affecting the debate and the ministers’ approaches. However the German government is completely behind TTIP and the majority of the countries support it.”
The free trade agreement between the USA and the EU, TTIP, has been declared dead by French and German ministers. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that it was due to the EU not wanting to bow to American demands and French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl said that there was no will from the Americans to continue.
However the Swedish government, which would like to have an agreement, says that the negotiations continue and is still hoping to reach an agreement. EU and Trade Minister Ann Linde (S), says, “There is no information that indicates the negotiations have stranded.”
Supporters of TTIP consider the German comments to be a domestic political manoeuvre.