Germany, EU in rush to boost global trade amid US isolation, Brexit

January 28, 2017 7:40 pm

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (Photo by AFP)

Several German officials have underlined the need for their country and the to swiftly seize economic opportunities arising from the US cancellation of global trade deals and a British withdrawal from the 28-nation bloc, commonly known as Brexit. 
Speaking at a meeting of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in the city of Greifswald, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin and the EU would seek new trade agreements with other countries.
“We live from interdependence,” she said, adding, “We’re banking on free, fair trade around the world.”
Merkel further defended the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), saying debates showed that such deals brought more opportunities than risks. CETA still needs approval from the European Parliament to enter into force. 
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said Berlin and should be prepared to fill the void created by US President Donald Trump’s cancellation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his similar measures expected in the future.
“Whatever noises we’re hearing from the United States, transatlantic ties must remain a key orientation,” he said, adding, “Our hand should remain outstretched for respectful cooperation based on … openness, honesty and … mutual responsibility.”
Additionally on Friday, German State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance Thomas Steffen called on EU member states to tie up 12 free trade deals with countries such as China and Australia as soon as possible.
In a document sent to other EU countries, he said the European leaders should “give a timely push against protectionism.”
On January 23, Trump scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific rim.
The US president is also expected to cancel the agreement’s European equivalent, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA).
This is while London is going to negotiate the terms of Brexit following the June 2016 vote to leave the EU.
The US president told visiting UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday that he believed Brexit would be a “wonderful thing” for Britain and open the door to new trade deals.
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