Germany seeks close cooperation with the United States on trade and environmental issues
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Berlin sees new opportunities for transatlantic cooperation with the arrival of the Biden administration
Germany wants the United States and Europe to strengthen transatlantic ties with a trade agreement to lift industrial tariffs, WTO reforms to increase pressure on China, and a joint carbon quota system to protect the environment.
Peter Bayer, Transatlantic Cooperation Coordinator in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, told Reuters that Germany and the new US administration under President Joe Biden must “think big” and develop an ambitious agenda based on shared values and interests..
“After the challenging years of Donald Trump’s presidency, Germany and Europe have a historic chance to breathe new life into the transatlantic partnership and improve relations with the United States,” Bayer said..
On Friday, Biden will host the first virtual meeting with other G7 leaders, including Merkel, to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the global economy, and relations with China..
While both sides will continue to have disagreements on issues such as Russian gas imports, Bayer said that should not prevent Germany and the United States from working closely on economic, trade, tax and climate policy..
“Now is the right time to include a package of proposals on trade and economic policy on the agenda. This initiative should include a comprehensive and ambitious free trade agreement, ”said Bayer, a member of the conservative CDU party to which Merkel belongs..
“It should also include a common roadmap for the reform of the WTO (World Trade Organization), which, among other things, will finally force China to play by the rules of international trade,” he added..
Bayer said that as a first step towards restoring confidence, the new US administration should remove tariffs on aluminum and steel imports imposed by Trump unilaterally..
Bayer also stressed that negotiations on a trade agreement should begin without any preconditions..
In his opinion, the first step could be an agreement on the abolition of duties on industrial goods, and at the second stage, more controversial areas could be discussed, in particular, agriculture..
Germany considers the fight against climate change as another area of potential cooperation.
“Biden’s decision to return to the Paris Climate Agreement (from which Trump withdrew) is an important signal,” Bayer said..
According to him, as a medium-term goal, a transatlantic system of emission quotas should be developed, which could be joined by other large industrialized countries..
This idea echoes a proposal from the influential German industry association BDI, which called on the EU and the US, along with other key players, to develop a roadmap for shaping global greenhouse gas pricing and agree on a minimum carbon tax until 2030..
Bayer also noted encouraging signals from the Biden administration to resume negotiations to reform global tax rules for digital companies..