RIGA – The EU and United States will likely miss a year-end target to seal the world's biggest-ever free trade deal, current European president Latvia said Wednesday.
"During our (EU) presidency and during the next presidency of Luxembourg, most likely these negotiations will not be concluded," Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told reporters in the capital Riga, referring to talks on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
Latvia's six-month stint as EU president ends when Luxembourg takes over for half a year on July 1.
Just last week EU leaders reiterated their commitment to conclude the deal by the year's end.
"We have been discussing the overall strategy how to achieve the agreement but we cannot exclude that it my take longer," Rinkevics said.
"The political will is there but in order to tango you need two."
Speaking alongside Rinkevics, EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstroem insisted "you cannot put a date" on the conclusion of the talks but said both sides wanted to conclude talks "under the Obama administration", or before January 2017.
The United States and EU agreed last month to work "full throttle" to secure the mammoth deal despite growing skepticism on both sides of the Atlantic.
It would not just slash the already low trade tariffs they share but would also harmonize regulations to an unprecedented degree, affecting goods and services as far-ranging as Roquefort cheese and accounting.
But social activists oppose many aspects.
The most contentious part of the deal includes a clause which allows corporations to sue governments in tribunals that are above national law.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015