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German Chancellor Merkel backs restarting TTIP talks

[BERLIN] German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday she wanted to resume talks between the European Union and the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

"I am in favour of resuming negotiations on such a free trade accord - and also resolving all the problems together," Mrs Merkel told an economic symposium of her ruling Christian Democratic Party.

Initial talks on the TTIP, which would create a huge free trade area on both sides of the Atlantic, came to a halt when Donald Trump won the US presidency after campaigning on a protectionist programme.

On taking office he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Pacific Rim economies - but US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said last month Washington was "open" to resuming TTIP talks.

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"It makes sense to continue TTIP negotiations and to work towards a solution that increases overall trade while reducing our trade deficit," Mr Ross told broadcaster CNBC on May 31.

Bent on tackling trade deficits the Trump administration now appears to have its heart set on reducing the trade imbalance with EU states, Germany in particular, in the hope it can open up their markets for US firms.

Germany, which last year turned in a record trade surplus, has been in Washington's sights since Trump came to power.

Meeting senior EU officials in Brussels last month, Mr Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn said the US president thought that Germany is "very bad on trade," citing its car exports as an example.

Last year, the US trade deficit in goods with Germany clocked in at a little under US$65 billion - albeit some five times lower than with China.

AFP

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