By saying that she was “very encouraged” that talks were being looked at after her recent trip to Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel fueled expectations of a future EU-U.S. trade deal on Sunday.
Germany would continue to work for trade agreements like the one signed between the European Union and Canada and that the country was opposed to protectionism and trade barriers, said Merkel, speaking at the opening of the 70th annual Hannover Messe trade fair.
“I also feel very encouraged by my visit to the United States that negotiations between the EU and the United States on a free trade agreement … are also being looked at,” she said.
U.S. President Donald Trump had warmed to a deal with the bloc after meeting Merkel in March, reported the London Times on Saturday and Merkel’s comments came after such a report.
Compared to a post-Brexit deal with Britain, a trade deal with the EU – allowing the tariff-free exchange of goods and services – was more important to U.S. interests, and this was the ‘realization’ of the in the Trump administration, said the London Times report quoting a source close to the White House.
While being told that such an accord could only be negotiated by the EU, Trump had repeatedly asked Merkel about signing a bilateral trade deal, the newspaper reported quoting a senior German politician as saying.
The EU’s first priority was to complete work on a deal with Japan, Merkel said and only added that she was very encouraged following her U.S. visit, even though she did not mention the exchange between her and Trump.
Cancelling U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal among 11 Pacific Rim countries, was one of Trump’s first acts as president.
Negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership under then-President Barack Obama, had been initiated between the EU and the United States. However that process of negotiations had been left uncompleted.
Washington was warned against pursuing protectionist policies by Dieter Kempf, president of the BDI industry group.
“Those who have trouble understanding how trade surpluses and globalization effects are created are invited to come here and take a look,” he said.
During negotiations with Britain about its exit from the bloc, warnings were also given to the EU against watering down the four basic freedoms of its single market by him.
“We cannot let the four basic freedoms of the EU be diluted by special arrangements or cherry-picking,” he said.
Merkel said the EU would insist on maintaining them, saying: “We want to continue good relations with Britain, while maintaining the advantages of the single market for ourselves”
(Adapted from Reuters)