US President Barack Obama has wrapped up two days in Germany promoting the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) free trade deal amid protests.
Obama previously waded into the Brexit debate in the UK, stating that the UK would be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals if it were to leave the European Union. The ability to quickly sign free trade agreements has been a key argument point for the pro-leave campaign.
But public support for the controversial agreement has been slipping, with only 17 percent of Germans viewing TTIP as a good deal.
Anti #ttipdemo starts in Hannover. Main concern: it could lower standards that Germans have long fought for pic.twitter.com/5kRdG2mZGM
— Thomas Sparrow (@Thomas_Sparrow) April 23, 2016
Thousands of Germans took to the streets ahead of Obama’s visit, voicing concerns that it would increase corporate influence and undermine democracy. According to one report, over 35,000 protesters rallied. Another common concern is workers’ rights.
Obama, seemingly aware of these criticisms, responded: “If you’re really concerned about inequality, if you’re really concerned about the plight of workers, if you’re a progressive, it’s my firm belief that you can’t turn inward.”
French minister sees TTIP deal “fading”
TTIP seeks to remove remaining trade barriers between the US and the EU, and harmonise safety, environmental, and consumer regulations.
At the same time, France’s minister of state for foreign trade Matthias Fekl said the chances of reaching an agreement were “fading”.
Fekl is the French envoy to the TTIP talks, which are entering their thirteenth round of negotiations this week.
In the United States, public support for the deal has also been falling. Although in the past few years it wasn’t in the public eye, developments in the US presidential primaries of both parties have seen a mistrust of free trade agreements. In a recent poll, 18 percent supported TTIP compared to 53 percent in 2014.