Over the weekend thousands of Germans protested the secrecy surrounding negotiations of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
While speaking in Hannover, Germany, President Obama defended the controversial trade deal between the United States and the European Union known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The deal would affect about 800 million people across Europe and America. On Sunday, Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the TTIP at a press conference before opening the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair. The two politicians said that despite reservations regarding the effects of globalization, global trade has produced a number of benefits, including more jobs.
“When people visibly see a plant lost or jobs lost, the narrative drives a lot of suspicion about these trade deals,” Obama said. “If you look at the benefits for our economies, it is indisputable that they are made stronger.”
Although Merkel and Obama tout the supposed benefits of trade deals like the TTIP, an estimated 40,000–90,000 people marched against the trade deal in Hannover on Saturday and Sunday. NBC News reports that the protests were organized by an “anti-free-trade alliance” made up of numerous groups, including trade unions, environmental activists and church groups. There has been massive opposition to the TTIP in Germany. In April 2015, thousands of Germans also took to the streets to oppose the TTIP.
In 2015, Reuters reported that, “a recent YouGov poll showed that 43 percent of Germans believe TTIP would be bad for the country, compared to 26 percent who see it as positive.” In a recent survey by Germany’s Bertelsmann Foundation, only 1 in 5 Germans said they were in favor of TTIP. Still, Merkel told the press that adopting the TTIP would help European economies grow. “We need to speed matters up now,” she said. Obama praised Merkel, calling her a “consistent and ready” leader.
Supporters of the TTIP believe the deal will make trade cheaper and easier, while boosting the economy. Opponents of the agreement have focused on dangers to environmental and consumer protections. During the press conference, Obama said it was necessary to enact the TTIP because 95% of markets are outside the U.S. President Obama said he was confident the TTIP would be finished by the end of the year, and that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which covers 12 pacific nations, would “start moving forward” after the U.S. presidential election. The TTIP is the European version of the TPP. The TPP has faced waves of resistance over the last several years for the same corporate influence that has tainted negotiations of the TTIP.
If the TPP and TTIP become law – and it seems inevitable – the free people of the world will once more have to contend with corporate-state power that limits freedoms and empowers the enemies of liberty. The situation may seem hopeless, especially in America where protests rarely number in the thousands, but where there is life, there is hope. Together we can spread awareness, reclaim the free hearts and minds of this world, and begin to build something that actually represents the people and reflects our desires.
Derrick is available for interviews.
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