This week marks the first time that the United States has participated in Germany's Hannover Fair, the world's leading industrial trade show, as featured Partner Country. U.S. President Barack Obama together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the Fair's opening ceremony to affirm the two countries' longstanding ties and to argue for yet closer trade relations across the Atlantic as represented by the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP).
"We're in agreement that TTIP is an important step for both economies," Obama said. He acknowledged that when plants and factories close or move overseas, the negative perception of international trade is reinforced. "But it's indisputable that trade agreements have helped both our economies." Trade agreements can help to boost trade, jobs and prosperity, Obama said. "The point is not whether there should be trade but under what terms."
"There are still too many barriers--regulations, rules, standards and tariffs--that drive up costs," Obama continued. "These barriers hold us back from even greater growth and job creation." He acknowledged the very real anxieties that come with globalization. "But the answer is not to pull up the draw bridge and stop trade, which is impossible with the global economy. You have to do it the right way." TTIP, in particular, is intended not to lower standards but the raise them, Merkel added. "It will increase standards for workers, for consumers, for the environment," she said.
Merkel also stressed the lead role that the U.S. and Germany share in the ongoing transformation of industry through the application of digital technology. In particular, she noted that Germany's Industrie 4.0 movement, and the U.S.-based Industrial Internet Consortium are working together "to develop the standards that determine the agenda for the future."
"We are at a crossroads, where the digital agenda converges with manufacturing and industry," Merkel said. "We must stand together to meet these challenges."