Merkel, Ross Call for New Talks on Trade Deal Despite Divisions

Angela Merkel

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross called for the resumption of talks on a trans-Atlantic trade agreement despite remaining differences on business ties between their countries.

Ross repeated criticism against Germany’s trade surplus with the U.S. on Tuesday, saying his country would benefit from reworking the rules of the World Trade Organization, which he said helped exporters but hurt importers.

“As your biggest customer, we hope to obtain a larger share of your market,” Ross said in a speech via video feed from Washington D.C. to an audience in Berlin that included Merkel.

Ross’s comments come against the background of deep divisions between Germany and the U.S. about trade and globalization. Two weeks before the G20 summit in Hamburg, the German government is trying to find a compromise with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. Ross had canceled a planned visit to Berlin on Tuesday.

Merkel welcomed Ross’s call for the restart of talks on a trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union. At the same time, she rejected his criticism of Germany’s trade surplus, arguing that direct investment to the U.S. by German companies should also be considered.

“We will have controversial discussions at the G20 summit,” she said.

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