President Obama has some big deals he wants to get done before he leaves office in the next eight months, one of which is to settle the trade deal the U.S. has been negotiating with the European Union.
Speaking Sunday at Hanover Messe, an industrial trade fair in Hanover, Germany, as part of his efforts to promote the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Obama said time is running out.
“The time to complete TTIP is now and I’m here to say that the United States is prepared to make every effort to reach an ambitious, comprehensive and high standard agreement this year,” Obama said, according to Reuters video coverage of the event.
The president spoke alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, stressing that failure to come through on the TTIP deal before he leaves office could mean the agreement won’t be finished for “quite some time” if the upcoming political transitions become a factor.
To supporters, the TTIP will provide each market increased access to the other, boost trade for domestic-made goods and services to the tune of $100 billion in each economy, and add jobs. But TTIP comes across quite the contrary to critics who say the deal will hurt jobs and cut quality, and the president was met with protesters in Germany who want a say in the agreement.
Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traveled with President Obama to Hanover as part of a contingent of roughly 350 U.S. business leaders—200 of which represent small and medium size American companies—to discuss expanding business between the two sides.
In a press briefing Monday, Donohue said TTIP is “a once-in-a-generation opportunity not only to boost our economic advantage, but to fundamentally strengthen this relationship,” the White House posted on its press page. “It’s going to reduce needless regulation. It’s going to take away barriers, and it’s going to help us in a geopolitical way as well.”
The 13th round of TTIP negotiations started Monday in New York and will last through Friday, Apr. 29. Chief negotiators from the U.S. and EU will give an update on the talks and take input and feedback from stakeholders.
“Our primary message on this trip is that the transatlantic relationship is more important than ever, and so is our global leadership in that regard,” Donohue said, referring to the Hanover visit. “We may not see eye-to-eye all the time with this administration—nor should we—but we stand shoulder-to-shoulder when it comes to advancing job-creating trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the TPP.”
Obama said he hopes TTIP will be agreed on this year, but the deal falls after the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Congress’ priority list, and they aren’t exactly scrambling to finalize that deal.