A hot debate over free trade in Germany

gerflag Free trade agreements are treaties of international law that are supposed to guarantee the free trade among the states signing it. The main aim is to abolish customs duties so that the trading is made easier.

Germany already signed many of those free trade agreements which is useful since Germany is one of the biggest export nations in the world.

Some of them are bilateral trade agreements between Germany and another state and others are multilateral trade agreements between the EU and other countries in which Germany, as a member of the EU, is involved.

According to  statistics of 2015 Germany’s main trade partners, regarding the export, are the USA, France and Great Britain. With regard to the imports China, the Netherlands and again France are the main trade partners.

In the last few months a new free trade agreement was negotiated and it is known under the name TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.TTIP is a trade agreement between the USA and the EU and it is supposed to improve the trading between these two continents since they are important trade partners for each other.TTIP is not only supposed to make the trading easier but also to stimulate the economy on both sides.

For all those reasons one may assume that TTIP only bears advantages but as we know most things have a catch.Although politicians promise that TTIP is useful and profitable for both sides, it is discussed controversially in public.

A lot of people in Germany hold the view that TTIP will bring more difficulties than benefits because if  the trade agreement was realized, the European standards would have to be brought in line with the American ones.One of the greatest fears is that genetically modified food will be sold in German supermarkets as well as the chlorine-washed chicken because both are prohibited in Germany.

Another aspect Germans are skeptical about are the international arbitration tribunals that could be even capable of taking proceedings against states like Germany.However, the supporters of TTIP state that if the EU and especially Germany refused the trade agreement with the USA, the US would negotiate about a transpacific trade agreement with Asian or south American countries which would harm the trade partnership between the US and the EU.

Meanwhile Germany is also negotiating about a European-Canadian trade agreement called CETA – Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement which is also protested against, however, it is likely that it will come into force soon.

by Anna K.

 While the Federal Republic of Germany might be easily overlooked on a world map, it is in fact the 3rd largest export economy in the world. For decades, Germany’s export of goods has been above its import and in 2015 Germany’s trade balance reached a record surplus of 248 billion euros. Nearly every fourth job is dependent on export, but because of a lack of raw materials, import plays a very important role too.

To ensure its status as a world leading economy, Germany has negotiated over 130 trade agreements over the last years. Main trading partners are the United States, France, China, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Italy. But while German cars and planes are exported to countries all around the world, last month thousands of Germans protested against the newest trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP) and Canada (Ceta). Trade unions, environmental associations and church-related groups had called for demonstrations in seven major cities. TTIP and Ceta opponents fear the loosening of environmental and social standards and arbitral tribunals, which could bypass the German justice system. In fact, criticism was expressed so widely that TTIP negotiations have been stopped. A re-start will depend on the outcome of the U.S. election and concessions made in Washington. Ceta

Ceta, however, is meant to be active by early 2017. In contrast to the U.S., Canada has agreed to many more conditions made by the EU. For instance, all important job norms of the International Labour Organization and geographical indications of source were accepted by Canada. In addition, the new left-liberal Canadian government has agreed to renegotiate the arbitral courts, which were at the center of German debate regarding Ceta. Particularly the German Minister of Economic Affairs, Sigmar Gabriel, has obtained a permanent investment court, which should replace the private arbitral tribunals. However, Ceta continues to be highly unpopular among German consumer protection experts, environmentalists and in society.

by Schirin Hafezi