By Viktoria Dendrinou
BRUSSELS--Negotiations on a sweeping trade pact between the European Union and the U.S. will be put on hold for a long time following the result of the U.S. election, the bloc's top trade official said on Friday.
Speaking after a regular meeting of trade ministers in Brussels, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said there was no plan to hold any further negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
"I think we should be realistic, I don't see the resumption of any TTIP negotiations in quite a long time," Ms. Malmström said.
The world's two biggest economic blocs have been negotiating TTIP since 2013, and have repeatedly said they hope to conclude negotiations before the end of the Obama administration in January.
But prospects for completing the deal have suffered from weakening political support in Europe as well as growing public criticism, as anti-globalization sentiment has gained traction on both sides of the Atlantic.
The election of Donald Trump, who employed a strong antitrade rhetoric throughout his campaign, has dealt a further blow to prospects for the already struggling agreement.
"For quite some time TTIP will probably be in the freezer and what will happen when it is defrosted I think we need to wait an see," Ms. Malmström said.
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Trump lambasted existing and planned trade deals, arguing that they hurt U.S. workers and the country's competitiveness.
European officials have long expected that if Mr. Trump won the election, TTIP would be all but dead, given the strong opposition he voiced against to global trade deals.
But they also stressed that hisviews on TTIP specifically weren't known, as his criticism was chiefly directed at the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade pact among the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia and eight other countries around the Pacific.
"He has not, one single time in his election campaign, made any reference to TTIP, so we do not know what he thinks on it," Ms. Malmström said.
In the U.S., TTIP has largely been under the public's radar, but strong criticism by presidential candidates of the recently agreed TPP underscores the lack of appetite and possible resistance to similar deals.
Peter Ziga, the Slovakian economy minister who presided over the ministers meeting, said the EU remained open to dialogue, but that the next step in negotiations will need to be assessed once the new U.S. administration is in place.
"The ball is on the U.S. side," he said.
But he added that, "at the moment we don't know if we have someone on the other side of the table."
The trans-Atlantic talks have generated more widespread disapproval in Europe than in Washington, where the Obama administration has struggled to get the TPP deal through Congress.
Britain's vote to leave the EU has added further uncertainty for negotiators on both sides, as it means the loss of one of the bloc's strongest trade advocates and one of the largest economies originally expected be part of the pact.
Write to Viktoria Dendrinou at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 11, 2016 11:19 ET (16:19 GMT)
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