'With their opposition, the free-trade protestors are not doing workers here any favours. Germany in particular thrives on open markets. Our product exports around the globe secure value added and thus jobs in Germany and Europe. In fact, one in four German jobs is dependent on foreign trade while about half of Germany's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from the goods and services we export. Medium-sized enterprises are also particularly reliant on open markets.
The free-trade agreements CETA and TTIP would strengthen trade relations with two of the most important economic areas, and definitely benefit Germany's export-intensive companies and employees in particular. Removing trade barriers would save time and money. This would give companies a chance to invest and expand more quickly and therefore help preserve and also create jobs in Germany and Europe.
At a time when protectionism is on the rise worldwide, Europe's policymakers should be resolutely hoisting the flag of free trade up high. The WTO states it is currently aware of more than 1,000 violations of free-trade principles – from Argentina to Brazil, and from Russia through Turkey to China and India. This is not a space we should leave for others to fill. Without TTIP, the USA will direct the focus of its partnerships towards the Pacific region. For Europe, the recent US agreement with the Pacific States should be seen as a wakeup call – we have to realise that in our struggle for open markets and competitiveness we cannot afford to get left behind by other regions in the world.
TTIP is of major importance for the automotive industry. After Great Britain, the United States of America is the second biggest export market for German carmakers. This is where a good 14 percent of all German car exports went in 2014 – that's around 620,000 vehicles. And in terms of actual export value, the US actually takes first place with more than EUR 20 million. Nevertheless, we are still wrestling with some considerable barriers to trade. If these were to be eliminated, the US market would also be open to many medium-sized companies that often lack the financial resources needed to align their product with the technical specifications in force on the other side of the Atlantic.
And that's why we advocate an extensive agreement that not only reduces customs tariffs but facilitates cooperation on regulatory issues while, at the same time, guaranteeing high consumer, environmental and data protection standards.
But time is short. Our objective must be to take a first big shot at a transatlantic investment and trade agreement while President Obama is still in office.’