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By Philippe Legrain ADD COMMENTS

Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Markel, is making noises about reviving the well-worn idea of a transatlantic free-trade area (FTA), and Susan Schwab, America’s top trade negotiator, has welcomed the idea too. So might the proposal finally get off the ground?

Unlikely. Remember that the European Commission negotiates trade deals
on behalf of Germany and the other 24 EU member states, and there is
still plenty of bad blood between Brussels and Washington over the
collapse of the Doha Round, which the Commission blames on the US. And
their main bone of contention – agriculture – is precisely what
scuppered previous efforts to create a transatlantic FTA.

Merkel knows all this. Her real aim is probably to strengthen her increasingly embattled domestic
position by being seen to take the initiative internationally. And it will certainly do her no harm in Washington, with which she has striven to patch up relations after their near-breakdown under her predecessor, Gerhard Schroder.

Posted 21 Sep 2006 in Blog, Europe, Trade, United States

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