Thousands of people protesting against a proposed trade deal between the US and the European Union marched through the streets here, ahead of American president Barack Obama’s valedictory visit to Germany.
The protestors carrying placards with slogans reading “No to TTIP,” “Stop TTIP, Yes we can” and “We don’t need TTIP” criticised the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, saying the trade deal is anti-democratic and will serve the interests of big businesses and weaken labour rights.
According to police, over 35,000 demonstrators took part in the march yesterday organised by several environmental, consumer protection organisations and trade unions.
More such rallies are expected today when Obama will arrive in Hannover for his final two-day bilateral visit Germany to inaugurate the Hannover fair jointly with the country’s chancellor Angela Merkel.
The US is the “partner country” of the world’s largest industrial fair Hannover Messe this year, following a similar presentation by India in Hannover last year. The fair underscores Germany’s commercial prowess.
Ahead of the visit, Obama told German newspaper ‘Bild’ that he considered Merkel as his “one of my closest partners and also a friend”.
“I’ve worked with her longer and closer than any other world leader, and over the years I’ve learned from her. She embodies many of the leadership qualities I admire most. She’s guided by both interests and values,” Obama, who will demit office on January 20 next year, said.
The negotiations between the US and the EU on a free trade agreement began in early 2013. When a deal is reached between the two sides, it would create the world’s largest free trade zone involving more than 800 million consumers.
Its supporters argue the proposed free trade agreement would give a big boost to the economies of the EU and the US and would create new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic by reducing or eliminating all regulatory barriers to trade and investments. The TTIP negotiations will be a theme of discussion at a meeting between Obama and Merkel in Hannover.
The two leaders will examine the possibility of bringing down the negotiations to a successful conclusion by the end of this year, a government spokesman said.