Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. relationship with Germany is one of its “most vibrant” global alliances, and that a proposed trans-Atlantic trade deal with the European Union would help to lift the economies of both participants, as well as raise global trading standards.
Speaking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin February 26, Kerry said he looked forward to discussing with her the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the EU, which would strengthen what is already the world’s largest economic relationship as they continue to recover from years of recession.
“President Obama believes there is a really unique opportunity looking at us now,” Kerry said. “We think this is something that can help lift the economy of Europe, strengthen our economy, create jobs for Americans, for Germans, for all Europeans, and create one of the largest allied markets in the world.”
Economic ties between the United States and the EU account for half of the world’s economic output and nearly $1 trillion, or one-third, of the global trade in goods and services.
The proposed partnership would advance trade and investment liberalization and address regulatory and other nontariff barriers. It could also influence global trade by developing rules and principles on issues concerning state-owned enterprises and promoting the global competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.
“It will help raise standards, it will help break down barriers, and we believe it is good for all of us,” Kerry said.
In a February 26 town hall meeting with German youth, Kerry emphasized that the U.S. and European economic futures are tied, and that challenges to European economies are felt in the United States.
“You’re our biggest trading partner, and there are lots of investments from Europe in the United States and vice versa, and we buy from you and vice versa,” he said. By working together, he added, “we have huge opportunity to create jobs, to build a stronger economy, and to build a future for each other.”
In his remarks after meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Kerry said that among EU countries, Germany is the largest U.S. trading partner.
“We want to see even more trade and investment that will create jobs — jobs for Germans, jobs for Americans, jobs for all Europeans — and help to lift the European economy at a time that it obviously needs it,” he said.
Talks to create the free-trade alliance are scheduled to begin by the end of June. Kerry said the agreement is a priority for Obama, and he pledged to work “diligently” to try to advance it.
The secretary said the United States stood with Germany throughout the Cold War of the 20th century and both countries have worked together over the years to meet “an extraordinary number of challenges” across Europe and around the world.
“Germany is without doubt one of our strongest and most effective allies in the world, and we are very, very grateful for your leadership, the leadership of your government, and the sustaining friendship and support of your people, because it has made a difference,” Kerry said.