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Obama pushes trade deal during stop in Germany

Obama pushes trade deal during stop in Germany
© WhiteHouse.gov

President Obama on Sunday touted a trade deal between the United States and the European Union (EU), but said it may be difficult to get it approved by the end of the year.

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“During presidential elections, it’s always tough when we’re in the heat of campaigns,” Obama said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Obama is in Germany to open the world’s largest industrial technology trade fair and try to win support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU.

There is opposition to the agreement in Germany, and thousands of protesters swarmed the streets in Hanover on Saturday carrying signs that read: "Yes We Can — Stop TTIP!"

Supporters say the agreement would boost business during a time of global economic uncertainty, while critics worry it could put consumer protections and environmental standards at risk.

"People naturally are going to worry more about what's lost than what's gained in response to trade agreements," Obama said.

"I think what you're seeing around the world is people are unsettled by globalization, although trade has brought enormous benefits to many of our countries that have been engaged in trade," Obama said. "People see a plant moving and jobs lost, and the narrative develops that this is weakening rather than strengthening the positions of workers."

Obama said in a BBC interview on Sunday that it's unlikely Congress will ratify the deal before he leaves office but added that it's important to finish negotiations before the end of the year.

"If we have that deal, then the next president can pick that up rapidly and get that done," Obama said.