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German economy minister urges support for EU-US trade deal

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Germany’s economy minister urged his country’s business leaders to promote the benefits of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the United States.

Proponents of TTIP say it will result in economic growth of up to $100 billion per year for both regions, but critics say it will increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets to benefit the public.

"The future growth of the U.S. feed industry lies in exports, whether it be directly, or indirectly through meat and dairy exports, and the feed industry needs the support of the administration to remove barriers to trade and enforce trade rules," Gina Tumbarello, AFIA manager of international trade, has said. "The most opportunistic path for this is through free trade agreements such as TPP and TTIP with the European Union."

If TTIP were to fail, “Germany and Europe could come under pressure through developments in other parts of the world," said Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s economy minister.

One of the most controversial elements of TTIP, which faces strong opposition in Germany, is the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. ISDS would allow firms to take cross-border legal action against governments. Gabriel said the mechanism is a way to modernize the mediation process and would set the “gold standard” for future trade deals.

"We need investor protection regime for a new generation," Gabriel said.

In Germany, Europe’s largest exporter, critics say ISDS will undermine European environmental and food laws and give too much power to American corporations.

The European Commission has frozen negotiations on ISDS with Washington. U.S. and EU leaders are looking to draft a deal on TTIP before the end of President Barack Obama’s term in January 2017.