Merkel warns Trump against slide into protectionism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel  at a meeting of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), Berlin, November 15, 2016 © John Macdougall
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged countries to enter into multilateral agreements with a view to globalization rather than to adopt protectionist measures. The message is seen as a thinly veiled warning to US President-elect Donald Trump.

“We are at the moment in a situation in the European Union, in our country and worldwide where there is an argument about how we want to shape globalization,” the chancellor said at a meeting of Germany's BDA employers association.

Donald Trump has widely criticized international trade agreements, saying they hurt American workers and the country's competitiveness.

In his campaign, Trump promised to “get tough” with China as well as to quit TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), which has not been finalized yet.

The German government led by Merkel is urging the EU to join a similar trade deal with the US known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

After suggesting last week Trump work based on democratic values, Merkel reportedly used the speech to point out the case for deepening international trade cooperation.

“Globalization is happening. We can arrange it such that we strengthen multilateral instruments... or such that we seal ourselves off and become protectionist,” she said, stressing that globalization must be fashioned in a multilateral way.

The chancellor promised to make globalization a key subject for debate during Germany's presidency of the G20 next year.

“This dispute over openness or sealing ourselves off will keep us very busy in the coming years,” Merkel said.