Finance Secretary Lindner was criticized for trying to relaunch the US Free Trade Agreement. There has always been an alternative – and better – plan, the economy minister said.
BERLIN – Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greenz) has rejected Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s (FDP) proposal to try again for a free trade agreement with the United States.
Habek said on the sidelines of a visit to Abu Dhabi (UAE) that this is not what the Americans expect and will not lead to anything in the short term. On the other hand, business associations welcomed the move.
Habeck noted that during a recent visit to Washington he also spoke to the US Secretary of Commerce – there is a better, simpler and more successful component, the Trade and Technology Board. “We have to expand that, the interaction in trade and technical regulations. And that’s what we need. But we’ve been there for a long time.”
New Attempt for Free Trade Agreement
Lindner had called for a new attempt at a free trade agreement with the United States at Handelsblatt. Referring to Russia’s attack, he told the newspaper: “The crisis now shows especially how important free trade is with partners in the world who share our values. We must learn from the experiences of the TTIP talks.”
The TTIP (“Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”) European Free Trade Agreement failed in 2016. There were huge protests against it, particularly in Europe, in part because environmentalists and consumers feared that the EU’s high standards could be relaxed.
The Federal Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services Association (BGA) welcomed Lindner’s initiative. BGA President Dirk Gandora said: “It is long overdue to dismantle US-European trade barriers. We must learn from the discussions around TTIP, there must be a clear underlying commitment from politicians to free trade across the Atlantic.”
The CDU Economic Council also backed Lindner: “The TTFTA symbolizes not only the solidarity of the free world, but also our liberation from strategic dependencies,” explained President Astrid Hammer. So far, any free trade agreements between the EU and other countries have failed due to very high EU standards that potential trading partners cannot always achieve in economic terms.
Concerns and doubts about the Lindner Initiative
The head of the European Parliament’s Trade Committee, Bernd Lange (Social Democratic Party), expressed his concerns. “With these considerations, one should honestly state that Washington is currently unable to negotiate or even ratify any comprehensive trade agreements – the political situation does not allow it,” he told the newspaper.
The German Federation of Mechanical and Factory Engineering (VDMA) also reacted with skepticism. VDMA- Director of Foreign Trade explained: “A comprehensive agreement like TTIP 2.0 is not currently on the agenda. The US is not willing or able to take up the TTIP issue again, and the EU has also learned from the failed negotiations.” Ulrich Ackermann.
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