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EU-US free trade deal

April 10, 2014

A majority of Americans and Germans support an EU-US free trade agreement, according to a new poll. But they disagree about whose regulatory standards should be adopted.

EU and US flags (Photo: GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)
Image: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images

The opinion survey found that support for an EU-US free trade agreement was roughly equal on both sides of the Atlantic. Fifty-three percent of Americans and 55 percent of Germans favor a transatlantic free trade deal. The US is Germany's fourth largest trade partner.

Published on Wednesday, the survey was conducted by the non-partisan Pew Research Center and the Bertelsmann Foundation, the North American branch of the German non-profit organization.

German respondents expressed skepticism about US regulatory standards. While 76 percent of Americans said that an EU-US free trade area should be governed by common rules, only 45 percent of Germans thought so.

Ninety-four percent of German respondents expressed greater trust in EU food-safety standards while two percent favored US standards. In contrast, 67 percent of Americans favored US food-safety regulations while 22 percent trusted European standards.

The EU has strong regulations against genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are widely consumed in the US.

"On a range of consumer issues, Germans simply trust European regulatory norms more than American ones," the Pew Research Center said in its final report.

Strong economic ties

The EU and the US hope to conclude negotiations on a free trade deal, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), by the end of the year. TTIP promises to create the largest free trade area in the world. But negotiations have become bogged down over disagreements on regulatory issues.

Relations have also soured in the wake of leaks by US whistleblower Edward Snowden. The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor revealed spying by the US on its European allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Some EU lawmakers have called for the trade negotiations with the US to be frozen until Washington promises to protect the privacy of European citizens.

In 2013, Germany was the fifth largest trade partner of the US. Trade between the EU and US amounted to $649 billion (468 billion euros) last year.

slk/jm (AFP, dpa)

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