US, EU officials denounce leaked trade documents

US, EU officials denounce leaked trade documents
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U.S. and European Union trade officials refused to acknowledge the validity of about 250 pages of leaked trade documents by Greenpeace Netherlands, saying that assessments of the texts are misleading at best. 

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the EU said that the release of the alleged Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) documents are being misinterpreted and don't reflect the high aims that the two trading partners share for a final agreement


"While the United States does not comment on the validity of alleged leaks, the interpretations being given to these texts appear to be misleading at best and flat out wrong at worst,” a USTR spokesman said Monday morning. 

Greenpeace Netherlands leaked what it says are the negotiating texts of 13 chapters of the TTIP following the latest round of discussions in New York City, claiming it shows that the trade deal “is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business."

“We have done so to provide much needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on the treaty,” Greenpeace said on its website.

But the USTR and the EU defended the process of the trade talks, arguing that they are consulting a broad range of groups from businesses to labor unions, environmental organizations and Congress.

"TTIP will preserve, not undermine, our strong consumer, health, environmental standards and position the U.S. and the EU to work together to push standards higher around the world," the USTR spokesman said.

"We look forward to having a fact-based discussion about what TTIP seeks and does not seek to achieve."

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a blog post responding to the leak that there seems "to be quite a number of misconceptions floating around."

"I am simply not in the business of lowering standards," she wrote. 

Malmström said that it shouldn't come as a surprise that the EU and the United States have different views. 

"That does not mean that the parties will meet halfway," she said. "In areas where we are too far apart in a negotiation, we simply will not agree. In that sense, many of today's alarmist headlines are a storm in a teacup.”

She said that “contrary to what many seem to believe, so-called consolidated texts in a trade negotiation are not the same thing as an outcome.” 

“They reflect each side's negotiating position, nothing else,” she wrote.

She said that in during past year the EU has started making its TTIP positions public so that they are "well-known and nothing new."

U.S. and EU negotiators have said they want to complete a deal this year, but the two partners are only inching along in their discussions.

Greenpeace said that "whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labor rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents."  

Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the documents show that the U.S.-EU deal is “heading in the wrong direction and would put President Obama’s trade policy on the wrong side of history.”

She said the texts reveal "for the first time the U.S.’s position to undermine environmental and climate protections."