Obama Promotes US-EU Trade Agreement In Germany

President Obama touted a proposed trade agreement between the U.S. and European Union amid the first presidential visit to a prominent German trade show.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

President Obama touted a proposed trade agreement between the U.S. and European Union amid the first presidential visit to a prominent German trade show.

The president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday opened the Hannover Messe industrial technology showcase with a call to strengthen "the largest trade and investment relationship in the world."

"I know the politics are hard, but we have to keep making our case, stating the facts and dispelling any misperceptions," Obama said. "We can't let this window of opportunity close."

The U.S. became an official partner in Hannover Messe for the first time this year, and Obama said that more than 350 U.S. companies and dozens of state and local economic development groups would participate.

Obama urged overseas consumers to buy American-made products and overseas companies to consider the U.S. in their expansion plans. He noted that U.S. universities account for more than one quarter of the world’s research and development and said that the country possesses the world's most productive workers.

"We are ready to do even more business with Germany, more business with Europe and more business with the world," Obama said.

Obama set a year-end deadline to complete lengthy negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and warned that after that date, political transitions on both sides of the Atlantic could stall the pact for years.

Trade agreements, including the TTIP and its Pacific Rim counterpart — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — became contentious issues across the political aisle both in Obama's last term and in the race to succeed him.

The president acknowledged "the localized costs of globalization" that often accompany trade agreements, but stressed that current trade barriers hurt the broader economy and that the U.S. and EU can't "pull up the drawbridge and stop trade."

"The answer is to learn from the past and do trade the right way, with high standards for workers, and consumers, and the environment," Obama said. "And that’s the kind of trade that we’re pursuing in this partnership."

The TTIP, meanwhile, isn't only stirring criticism at home. A reported 35,000 people converged on Hannover on Saturday to protest the proposal.

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