Germany’s Habeck Discusses ‘Mini Free-Trade’ Accord With US

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(Bloomberg) -- German Economy Minister Robert Habeck spoke with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about intensifying cooperation on the mutual recognition of products with the aim of reaching a form of limited trade pact.

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“A firm basis for a kind of mini free trade regarding technical products” is needed, Habeck said in Chicago during his last stop on a three-day trip to the US. “I have signaled this to Raimondo and we are both willing to work on it.”

Habeck said progress had been made between the European Union and the US within the Trade and Technology Council, a dialog set up in order to mitigate the negative impact of President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act on the EU. But he said more was needed to harmonize subsidies and foster reciprocal recognition for manufactured goods.

Many officials in Europe have expressed concerns about the future of transatlantic cooperation if Donald Trump wins the US election in November. The former president advocates a protectionist trade policy and has already announced that he will impose more tariffs if he returns to the White House.

“In principle, it is very desirable to make progress on trade agreements with the US,” said Veronika Grimm, a member of Scholz’s panel of independent economic advisers. “However, it is unlikely that much progress will be made, especially in the course of the election campaign, which is unlikely to be a priority in the US.”

During his trip, Habeck met with Raimondo, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

(Updates with comments from Veronika Grimm in fifth paragraph. An earlier version of the story corrected the name of the Trade and Technology Council.)

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