The United States was “open” to resuming negotiations with the EU on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), according to Wilbur Ross, US Commerce Secretary. Mr. Ross said that “it makes sense to continue TTIP negotiations and to work towards a solution that increases overall trade while reducing our trade deficit,” adding “it’s no mistake that, while we withdrew from TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Pacific Rim economies), we did not withdraw from TTIP”.
TPP was one of the first moves of the Trump administration when it blocked the deal covering about 40% of the world’s economy signed between the United States and 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region including Australia, Japan, New Zealand who are now leading efforts to revive it. Regarding the deal with the EU, Mr. Ross also added that “the EU is one of our largest trading partners, and any negotiations legally must be conducted at the EU level and not with individual nations. Thus, it makes sense to continue TTIP negotiations and to work towards a solution that increases overall trade while reducing our trade deficit.”
According to the US Census Bureau, the US trade deficit with the EU in 2016 was $146.3 billion. Mr. Ross’ comments mark a change in the position of the new US administration and come at the time when Washington and Berlin clash on policies including international trade and diplomacy. TTIP negotiations were launched in 2013 but were put on hold when Mr. Trump was elected on the grounds of his talk of protectionist policies. The deal which would set up a huge free trade area across the Atlantic had to deal with severe opposition from civil society groups and an embarrassment in the EU-Canada CETA deal’s ratification process when Belgium’s region of Wallonia threatened to block the entire deal.