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Merkel and Obama make the case for keeping TTIP alive

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed hope that the incoming US administration will pick up the TTIP negotiations from the point reached under the term of office of the outgoing US President Barack Obama.

“We have made progress, quite a lot of progress,” Merkel told a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama, who visited Germany on 17-18 November on his last trip to Europe before handing over to President-elect Donald Trump. The TTIP negotiations “cannot be stopped,” Merkel added, expressing confidence that “one day we will come back to what we have achieved and build on it.”

The comment came amid doubts expressed by EU officials and politicians about the prospect of further progress in the TTIP talks under Mr Trump, who is seen as a strong opponent of big trade agreements (see article).

Chancellor Merkel said that the EU wanted to continue its close cooperation with the US in future, including on the trade front. “We continue to build on what we’ve already achieved in these last months of the administration, and we will continue also with the new administration,” she said.

Obama also insisted that TTIP should be kept alive. “The negotiations on agreements like TTIP have been challenging, and obviously at a moment when there’s concerns about globalization and the benefits that accrue to particular people, it is important that those negotiations and channels of communication remain,” he told reporters.

“And at a time when the European project is facing challenges, it’s especially important to show the benefits of economic integration by continuing to invest in our people and working to reduce inequality, both within and across our countries,” Obama added.

As there is no political appetite on either side of the Atlantic for a partial agreement, the two teams are working to “lock in” as many chapters as possible in the coming weeks so that the talks can be easily revived after the new US administration is in place and ready to re-start them.

The format of the ‘good-bye package’ has yet to be decided, EU Trade Insights was told.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström will hold talks with the outgoing US Trade Representative Michael Froman on 27-29 November in Washington to decide, inter alia on the format of the handover package. It is not clear yet if she will meet any members of Mr Trump’s transition team.

The name of Froman’s successor hasn’t been yet announced.

By Joanna Sopinska