WASHINGTON — U.S.Trade Representative Michael Froman said Friday the transatlantic trade talks between the U.S. and European Union are “back on track” after the U.S. government shutdown stalled the negotiations and a widening imbroglio over reported U.S. spying on European political leaders raised questions about the deal’s prospects.
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Froman, who spoke on a panel at the second day of a business investment summit here, addressed the fallout from the U.S. National Security Agency’s alleged surveillance of some of its European allies, which prompted some European officials to call for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or T-TIP, negotiations to be suspended.
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Asked whether the reported spying could hurt the trade agreement’s prospects, Froman said the U.S. takes the situation seriously but believes the issues arising from it should be handled on a separate track from that of the trade negotiations.
“I think you’ve heard from a number of European officials that they see the logic of moving ahead with T-TIP,” Froman said. “It is very important to their growth strategy and to their strategy to try to maintain competitiveness in the global economy. So we’re hopeful that we are going to be able to continue to make progress on that.”
Froman said a team of U.S. trade negotiators is currently in Brussels to pick up where they left off when the second round of the T-TIP trade talks was canceled due to the 16-day U.S. government shut down in October, stemming from a Congressional impasse on the budget and debt ceiling.
“There are negotiations that had to be canceled during the shutdown of the government unfortunately, but are now back on track and we expect to continue those discussions in the coming weeks,” Froman said.