BERLIN The European Union still sees some chance of reviving the stalled U.S.-European trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Monday.
Katainen said it was noteworthy that U.S. President Donald Trump had attacked a U.S. trade agreement with Asia and the North American Free Trade Agreement during his election campaign, but had not taken aim at TTIP specifically.
"Let's put it this way: there's still hope," Katainen told Reuters in an interview. He said EU officials remained committed to strong transatlantic ties and would contact the new U.S. trade negotiator for further discussions once he was in office.
"It's still very important for the U.S. but also for European manufacturers, especially small- and medium-sized businesses," Katainen said.
Katainen said he was seeing growing interest from India, Gulf countries and China in cementing trade agreements with Europe, given their concerns that the United States would pursue increasingly protectionist policies under Trump.
"These countries or areas have indicated very clearly that they want to fight against protectionism, they want to support rule-based globalisation," he said.
The former Finnish prime minister said EU officials would meet with counterparts from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries this spring to discuss the possibility of reviving long-dormant trade negotiations between the two bodies.
"I cannot guarantee anything yet, but there seems to be growing interest from both sides," Katainen said. "It would be a very strong political message globally if the GCC and the EU could restart negotiations."
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Catherine Evans)