BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday she’s not happy about the possible demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which President-elect Donald Trump wants to pull the U.S. out of. She argued that alternative pacts will be a poor substitute.
Merkel didn’t mention Trump directly in a speech to the German Parliament in which she called for nations to take a multilateral approach to solving global problems, but made plain her unease at his approach to major trade pacts.
“I will tell you honestly: I am not happy that the trans-Pacific agreement now will probably not become reality,” she said.
“I don’t know who will benefit from that — I want to hold back with forecasts,” she added.
“I know only one thing: there will be other trade agreements, and they won’t have the standards that this agreement and the hoped-for TTIP agreement have. This has to do with jobs under globalization with fair competitive conditions, with shaping globalization in a humane way. “
She was referring to the planned Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and the European Union. With Trump coming into office, EU officials are all but certain that TTIP — which also faces opposition in parts of Europe, including Germany — will have to be renegotiated, if any life remains in the project at all.
Trump has described the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, as a “potential disaster for our country.” He has also said he wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The TPP’s possible demise could give a boost to alternative initiatives including one promoted by China in which the United States is not taking part.
Merkel made a wider plea for sticking to a multilateral approach in complicated times.
“There are two possibilities for reacting to this,” she said. “Either I pull back to myself and my country, I shut myself off, I try to find simple answers to what seems so complicated; or we advocate strengthening our values which we consider right and important not just at home, but try to put them out into the world together with our European partners, together with the United States, together with allies across the world.”
“I say that we should seek common ground, count on multilateralism and working together with others to shape globalization,” Merkel said.
The chancellor, who announced on Sunday that she will seek a fourth term in Germany’s election next year, also said the impact of the internet on media shouldn’t be underestimated, noting that “today fake sites, bots and trolls can warp opinion” and that websites’ algorithms can amplify opinions.
“We have to learn to deal with this,” she said. The phenomenon could be “an interesting question” for Parliament, she added, praising her ministers’ efforts to combat online hate speech.