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Germany likely to witness mass protests today against transatlantic trade deal

A new round of talks will start in October and US President Barack Obama wants the deal concluded before his term ends in January. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Berlin, Germany Sep 17, 2016, 05.58 AM (IST)
In a bid to mark their protest against the controversial transatlantic trade deal, thousands of protesters are likely to take to the streets across Germany today ahead of the next round of negotiations slated for October 3 in New York, according to ABC news. 

The European Union (EU) and the United States had begun negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in 2013  with an aim to create the world's biggest free trade  market comprising of 850 million consumers.

While exporters are in favour of the deal that promises lower tariffs and a wider base of consumers, the consumers in Europe fear it would it would  lead to more outsourcing and consequently job losses. According to a Reuters report, several rights group fear that the deal would provide easier access to European market without creating more jobs. 

"We hope that more than 250,000 participants will join in the march nationwide," Roland Suess from the anti-globalisation group Attac, one of the organisers of the demonstrations in seven German cities including the capital Berlin and Frankfurt, told AFP. 

In Germany, there is widepread skepticism about the accords in Germany.  According to AFP, a survey has highlighted that 28 per cent its respondents doubted free trade bringing in any benefits and 52 per cent say it would result in weakening of standards and increasingly inferior products. 

Proponents say that EU's most ambitious trade impact could increase trade between the two areas by some 20 per cent, adding some 11.6 billion euros a year to the EU economy. However, prominent rights groups in Germany argued that the deal undermines democracy because citizens would be excluded from decision-making. 

Vice-Chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel last month declared that talks on TTIP have "de facto failed" while Peter Gauweiler, who had quit his CDU post and MP mandate to protest against Merkel's stand on the the euro crisis, called the proposed treaties "a danger for democracy".

Gabriel had also insisted that "Europeans must not give in to (the Americans') demands".

However, a hopeful German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said EU should keep negotiating with US over the free trade deal. 

A new round of talks will start in October and US President Barack Obama wants the deal concluded before his term ends in January.

A smaller version of TTIP is also in the works with Canada. The deal called CETA, will be signed in October.

There are also  plans for setting up a special court to hear cases by companies against governments over breaching of regulatory issues, which the opponents see as giving firms a veto over public policy.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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