BERLIN, July 3 Germany's Angela Merkel made a
strong plea on Thursday for the European Union and the United
States to complete their talks about forming a new transatlantic
free trade area.
"I feel totally committed to this deal and really want to
implement it," the chancellor told a conference of business
supporters of her conservative party in Berlin, warning them
about the "false arguments" used by the deal's detractors.
Supporters say creating the world's largest free-trade pact,
and a marketplace of 815 million people, could boost the EU and
U.S. economies by $100 billion a year each.
But the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP) has met resistance in Europe, including concerns about
imports of U.S. food and the need to protect European culture.
Merkel's frustration at the talks' slow progress was echoed
by former U.S. trade representative Susan Schwab, who told the
conference in Berlin that opponents of the deal should be aware
of the potential cost of turning it down.
"Sometimes, for those of us who are pro-trade activists, we
are frustrated that things are not moving more quickly," said
Schwab, adding: "If you want to protect French movies and
television, then it should cost you."
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told the conference
that TTIP could boost economic growth and create jobs in Europe
"by providing new opportunities for companies to grow and become
more efficient" and lowering the cost of imports such as energy.
The EU and U.S. account for almost half the world economy
and more than a third of global trade, with two-way trade in
goods alone worth more than $2 billion a day.
De Gucht said there was plenty of discussion across Europe
about the benefits and risks of the trade deal, "and nowhere in
Europe is the debate as lively as in Germany".
The EU commissioner tried to reassure his German audience,
saying: "The United States is not the deregulated 'Wild West'."
(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Kevin Liffey)