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Saturday 12th
posted by James Tweedie in World

TTIP deal on ice

PANIC-STRICKEN European Union leaders said the hated US-EU trade deal TTIP was in limbo yesterday following Donald Trump’s election as US president.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said that they “don’t really know what will happen” but “there is strong reason to believe that there would be a pause in TTIP, that this might not be the biggest priority for the new administration.”

Trade unions, greens, medical professionals and others oppose the deal, which would allow foreign corporations to sue governments over laws and policies they claim impede profit-making.

But campaign group Global Justice Now (GJN) said its failure was “nothing to do with Trump and his divisive politics of hate.”

GJN trade campaigner Guy Taylor said TTIP had already been “declared dead by most trade experts” this summer, when France demanded a suspension in secretive talks over the pact.

“There has been a huge movement against TTIP on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. “Over 3.5 million Europeans have registered their opposition to this attempted corporate coup.

“The defeat of TTIP was very much one of progressive people power and nothing to do with Trump and his divisive politics of hate.”

War on Want senior trade campaigner Mark Dearn said: “Only time will tell if Donald Trump’s staunch opposition to the TPP and North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) will translate into opposition to TTIP.

“We must be extremely watchful over any US-UK deal after Brexit which Trump would likely be keen to support — it’s hard to imagine a Trump administration championing workers’ rights, public services, regulations on business and the need to fight climate change.”

In the US, Auto Workers’ Union (UAW) president Dennis Williams backed Mr Trump’s plans to either renegotiate or withdraw from Nafta on Thursday — and endorsed a new 35 per cent tariff on vehicles imported from Mexico.

Mr Trump has also vowed to cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on his first day in office — January 20.

The UAW backed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but Mr Williams said Mr Trump may have garnered more votes among his members than previous Republican hopefuls Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Nationwide anti-Trump protests turned violent in Portland on Thursday night.

Riot police laid into prisoners with pepper spray and rubber bullets. They claimed that some of the 4,000 marchers had smashed shop windows, vandalised cars and pelted officers with missiles. Officers made 26 arrests.

In Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Denver, protesters blocked interstate motorways.

On Thursday night Mr Trump tweeted: “Professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

But early yesterday he changed his tune, tweeting: “Love the fact that the small groups [sic] of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”

On Thursday Mr Trump met his predecessor at the White House, discussing foreign policy ahead of Mr Obama’s trips to Greece, Germany and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Peru.

But both men looked distinctly awkward at an Oval Office press conference following the meeting, while White House spokesman Josh Earnest — a normally unflappable spin-mastter — seemed anxious at a later press call.

Mr Earnest evaded questions on whether Mr Trump would respect the rule of law, saying his tone “would seem to suggest that certain basic principles of our democracy are likely to be upheld.”

Mr Trump proceeded to meetings with Republican Party House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan — a lukewarm ally during the election — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the legislative agenda.

“We’re going to move very strongly on immigration,” Mr Trump said. “We will move very strongly on healthcare.” Mr Trump has vowed to abolish Obamacare.

But on Wednesday Mr McConnell said the president elect’s pledge to impose congressional term limits would “not be on the agenda in the Senate.”