(Adds comment by German Economy Minister)
BERLIN Oct 5 German Chancellor Angela Merkel
said the European Union and the United States should continue to
negotiate the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP) free trade deal as long as possible, despite opposition
in many European countries.
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel triggered an intense
debate in Europe about the free trade deal when he said in
August that the talks had failed because Washington did not want
to compromise with its European counterparts.
"We are still continuing the discussions about TTIP and I
think we should continue them as long as possible," Merkel told
a meeting of the German BGA trade body on Wednesday. "We will
never fall below the standards set by the European Union."
Opponents of the deal argue it would weaken environmental
standards and give too much power to multinational companies.
But Merkel said a successful deal could "write a new chapter in
the history of globalisation".
Gabriel told the BGA trade group he did not believe the TTIP
trade talks could be completed this year.
"I expect that we'll need a new start after the U.S.
president election," Gabriel said.
He said the European Union's free trade deal with Canada,
which had set high standards for protections, would help prevent
adoption of a European-U.S. deal that offered worse conditions.
BGA President Anton Boerner told the meeting: "TTIP may be
the last chance for Europe to participate in a trade deal that
allows us to set the standards for global trade."
Such standards might not please everyone, but they would
"definitely be better than the ones that other countries without
democracy and respect for human rights would write," he said.
U.S. and European officials have said they expect talks on
the trade deal to continue at least until a new U.S. president
is sworn in next January. Some German and French officials have
said it might be helpful to resume the talks under a new name.
A senior German government official said Germany expects an
intense debate at the International Monetary Fund meeting in
Washington this week on the growing risks of populism and
growing opposition to free trade.
"For us and also many others, a free world economy, free
movement of goods and no protectionism are basic pillars of an
order that we have always advocated and supported," the
official said on condition of anonymity.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is likely to stress at
the IMF meeting that Germany's investment rate is above the
European average and that Berlin plans to further boost domestic
demand with additional tax cuts, the official said.
The IMF maintained its forecast for weak global growth on
Tuesday and warned that further stagnation would fuel more
populist sentiment against trade and immigration that would
stifle activity, productivity and innovation.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Andrea Shalal and Rene Wagner,;
Editing by Ralph Boulton)