Hundreds of thousands protest in Berlin against EU-US trade deal

The debate takes place as Washington, Canberra and 10 other nations sealed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after more than five years of negotiations and a US official promised the closely-held text would soon be available for wider scrutiny.


“The lawyers are working right now to finalise the text and to prepare it for release. We hope to get it out within the next 30 days,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said in an interview with CNN.


Dietmar Bartsch, deputy leader of the parliamentary group for Germany’s  Left party, said he was concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding the talks. “We definitely need to know what is supposed to be being decided,” he said.


Marchers banged drums, blew whistles and held up posters reading “Yes we can – Stop TTIP”.


The level of resistance has taken German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government by surprise and underscores the challenge it faces to turn the tide in favour of the deal which proponents say will serve as a counterweight to China’s economic clout.


In a full-page letter published in several German newspapers on Saturday, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel – himself a member of the centre-left Social Democrats – warned against “scaremongering”.


“We have the chance to set new and goods standards for growing global trade. With ambitious standards for the environment and consumers and with fair conditions for investment and workers. This must be our aim,” Mr Gabriel wrote.


Businesses hope the trade deal will deliver over $US100 billion of economic gains on both sides of the Atlantic.


“A fair and comprehensive free trade deal promotes growth and prosperity in Europe. We should actively participate in the rules for world trade of tomorrow,” said Ulrich Grillo, head of the BDI Federation of German industries.


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