For Angela Merkel, the goal is clear. Europe and the United States of America must agree “to the essentials” of a free trade agreement “by the end of the year, if possible,” the chancellor told members of her party’s parliamentary group on Monday. “We need to speed up our negotiations.”
Although currently preoccupied with the dispute within her party and in Europe over the seemingly unending influx of refugees and migrants, Ms. Merkel said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, remains important to her.
The negotiations over the free trade agreement with the United States have been underway for more than two years. Its purpose is not only to eliminate tariffs, but also to reduce regulatory barriers and expedite joint product and service standards. The agreement is intended to facilitate interaction between companies and create international standards Asian competitors would also be forced to comply with one day.
At issue is a “new benchmark for free trade agreements,” Ms. Merkel said, noting the goal is to grow together “into a common economic zone” in the medium term. But this goal, she added, has provoked fear and protests over these negotiations.
The chancellor spent almost half an hour promoting the agreement during the meeting. She cited the results of an agreement with South Korea showing a 50-percent increase in exports.
The United States is Germany’s most important trading partner. An agreement should bring growth, but it could also fail because of its “ambitious timetable,” as U.S. Ambassador Anthony Gardner recently told the U.S. Congress. The 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign will begin to heat up in about nine months, and President Barack Obama will be out of the White House by January 2017 at the latest.
At the meeting, CDU parliamentary leader Volker Kauder said the deal “needs to be wrapped up.”