Analysis: Canceled EU-U.S. talks complicate trade ambitions

Mon Oct 7, 2013 5:53am EDT
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By Robin Emmott and John O'Donnell

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Even before the cancelation of the latest round of EU-U.S. talks, negotiations to create the world's largest free-trade deal were getting into difficulty territory.

France won a concession to leave European movies and entertainment out of the pact, to shield them from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, raising concerns Washington may pursue opt-outs for its shipping industry on security grounds.

Then the first round of talks in July were overshadowed by reports the United States had bugged European Union offices under its surveillance program made public by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Now, just before negotiators were due to get down to the nitty gritty in the search for a deal by the end of next year, the U.S. government's partial shutdown has forced next week's talks in Brussels to be scrapped.

If that were not enough, a split is emerging between Europe and the United States on one of the most critical areas of the proposed pact: finance.

"This delay is not fatal, but if the U.S. shutdown drags on and you are taking things off the table like culture and financial services, it is not a good way to start," said Stuart Eizenstat, a former U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

"This postponement may complicate the timetable of completing the talks by the end of 2014," Eizenstat said.

EU and U.S. officials say the deal, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, could boost economic output by some $100 billion a year on each side of the Atlantic, creating a market of 800 million people.   Continued...

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks during a news conference during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island October 5, 2013. REUTERS/Beawiharta