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Talks on landmark EU - US trade deal postponed as a result of shutdown

The negotiations had been due to begin in Brussels next week.

A US Park Police officer pulls police tape across the steps closing access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington
A US Park Police officer pulls police tape across the steps closing access to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington
Image: Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

THE SECOND ROUND of scheduled talks between top European Union and American officials to clinch the world’s largest trade deal have been cancelled as a result of the US government shutdown.

The discussions were meant to start on Monday but the European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has confirmed he’s been informed by US Trade Representative Michael Froman that Washington will be unable to send its delegation.

“Next week’s negotiations have therefore been cancelled,” he said in a statement, referring to the planned talks in Brussels.

De Gucht said the delay was “clearly regrettable” but he also insisted that both the EU and the United States were “strongly committed to see the process through”.

Both sides hope to have proposals ready by January to end deep differences over rules and regulations.

Free trade

Gaps on food and aviation safety, to standards for electric cars or the regulation of financial services, stand in the way of plans for a transatlantic deal to create the world’s largest free trade area.

A first round of talks in efforts to seal the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership took place in Washington in July. Besides the cancelled second round, a third round of talks is due to be held in December.

The EU-US deal would cover an area that has 820 million people.

While no timeframe has been set to reach a deal, there is pressure on both sides to make significant progress by late next year before a new European Commission takes office in November 2014.

Explainer: Why has the US government shutdown and what does it mean?

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AFP

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