Obama and Merkel defend US-EU free trade agreement

obama(IANS) US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended a free trade agreement under negotiations between the US and European Union on Sunday, saying the agreement will benefit the economy on both sides of the Atlantic.

In a joint press conference in the northern German city of Hanover, Obama said it is “indisputable” that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will make both the EU and US economy stronger and more competitive compared to other regions of the world.

“The United States and the European Union need to keep moving forward with the TTIP,” he said after holding talks with Merkel in his final visit to Germany as the US President.

“It is very helpful to allow our economy in Europe to grow, It’ s important for the German economy, it’s important for the European economy,” said Merkel, adding that both the EU and US have an interest to speed up negotiations which was launched in July 2013.

A new round of talks over the agreement is scheduled to start in the US next week. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people protested in Hanover streets against the agreement.

A recent survey found that public support for the agreement dropped sharply in both Germany and the US in recent years. Concerns of the opponents include declines in consumer and labour protection, environment standards as well as the secrecy of the negotiations.

Obama said differences between the two sides are narrowing and he’s confident that the agreement will be completed finally although he cannot anticipate that the deal will be ratified by the end of this year.

Medaram Jathara

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