BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - France does not rule out terminating negotiations with the United States that were meant to forge the world’s biggest trade pact, Junior Trade Minister Matthias Fekl told a newspaper.
Fekl said the negotiations were favoring American interests and “either weren’t advancing or were progressing in the wrong direction.”
“If nothing changes, it will show that there isn’t the will to achieve mutually beneficial negotiations,” French regional daily Sud Ouest quoted the secretary of state as saying.
“France is considering all options including an outright termination of negotiations,” he added in the interview published on Monday.
If agreed, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would encompass a third of world trade.
While many businesses welcome the accord to create a market of 800 million people, hoping it will add $100 billion a year to economic output on both sides of the Atlantic, opponents in Europe say it could erode EU standards on food safety and the environment, and that negotiations have not been transparent.
Fekl said Europe had made multiple offers but the United States had failed to reciprocate.
“We do not feel the U.S. is taking into account our wishes around services or the problem of private arbitration courts,” the French minister said.
“The negotiations must in any case allow our SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and farmers to have access to the American market,” Fekl said.
The junior minister also criticized the talks as lacking transparency.
“Lawmakers should have access to documents elsewhere than just in secure rooms of the United States embassy in Paris, which has been the case up to now,” he said.
“American lawmakers have access to a far greater number of documents than their European counterparts,” he added.
Reporting by Claude Cannelas; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Ruth Pitchford