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Will Germany Promote the Creation of a Transatlantic Free-Trade Area?

[UPDATE: The idea is not new. Already in 1997, Germany Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel "proposed that a transatlantic free-trade zone, TAFTA, be created in the long term."]

"Spurred by concern about China's growing economic might, Germany is considering a plan for a free-trade zone between Europe and the US," writes the Financial Times (FT) in an article availabe at MSN Money:
A senior aide to Angela Merkel said the chancellor was "interested" in promoting the idea as long as such a zone did not create "a fortress" but rather "a tool" to encourage free trade globally, "which she is persuaded is a condition of Germany's future prosperity". Separately, on Friday, the US, Canada and the European Union complained to the World Trade Organisation about China's tariffs on car parts, raising the prospect of Beijing facing its first WTO dispute.
China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was on tour in Europe. Hopefully he was pressured on Darfur as well. Global Darfur Day was on Sunday and Jewels in the Jungle has a news round-up. Die Zeit's Kosmoblog criticizes a lack of attention for Darfur in Germany. The FT mentions only that Chancellor Merkel criticized China's poor human rights record and restrictions on foreign news agencies. [UPDATE: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes that Darfur was discussed and that Prime Minister said China supports UN troops in Darfur] The FT concludes:
As German perceptions of China have grown more American, Washington's approach has shifted too. Speaking before his first trip to Beijing, Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, this week outlined a more balanced policy mixing traditional US criticism with praise for China's reforms.
Prof. Drezner sees "many reasons to believe that TAFTA [Transatlantic Free-Trade Area] will never get off the ground", but finds the idea "very intriguing. Even if it takes ten years to negotiate, the combined weight of a TAFTA in terms of both market size and rule-setting behavior would be formidable." (HT: ROA) The FT advises caution:
Ms Merkel's aide said it was "far too early" to tell whether the project of a transatlantic free-trade zone would be part of Germany's priorities when it assumes the six-month presidency of the European Union and chairs the G8 group of leading industrial nations from January.


Tim Worstall on : Woefully Silly

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A (new to me) German website, Atlantic Review, picks up on the idea of Germany being willing to push for a transatlantic free trade area. A woefully stupid idea. As we all know, unilateral free trade benefits the population of

Atlantic Review on : Transatlantic Free-Trade Zone as "NATO for the World Economy"

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Gabor Steingart makes "an argument for a trans-atlantic free-trade zone" in the English version of Der Spiegel: The role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today's age of economic conf


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Jay McGinley on :

SEPT 17TH: AWESOME! BUT WE ARE NOT STOPPING GENOCIDE IN DARFUR DARFUR VIGIL DAY 116 (now in NYC); 56 DAYS HUNGER STRIKE since July 4, 2006 It only took just one failed component, one failed component out of millions that painstaking effort had made right, to cause the searing tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. You'll remember that for Challenger it was a faulty "O ring." The contributions of the many that led to a brilliantly executed September 17th series of worldwide events is something we all should humbly honor, praise, reverence and express our deep respect and gratitude for. I do. It was awesome. And a handful of truly heroic efforts took place - promoting/filling busses from Pittsburgh, Boston, Ohio, DC, All Parts Global…; logistics; PR.... Thank you and God bless your commitment. What the September 17th teams worlwide did is absolutely necessary! But there is a faulty "O ring" in the Campaign to Save Darfur. SEPTEMBER 17TH, AND THE FOLLOW-ON EVENTS CONTEMPLATED AND PLANNED WILL NOT STOP THE GENOCIDE. And I have yet to have anyone prominently involved with the Darfur movement that disagrees. And I've asked. And I've received responses. A crucial component is missing; a component that has been essential for every previous social-change movement. Stopping Genocide requires Monumental Social-Change - NEVER has genocide been stopped. N-E-V-E-R. Never. Not Rwanda, Cambodia, Kurds, Serbrinka, not 6,000,000 Jews.... Kosovo was far too late addressed to some degree. What is profoundly missing is a Core Group of Leaders that anyone, EVERYONE SEES is heroically putting their skin in the game, standing up for, getting in harms way for, SACRIFICING PERSONALLY for Darfur. Name major social change that has ever come without this. Civil Rights? Apartheid? Stopping Vietnam War? Suffrage? IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED. Unmistakable-Sacrificial-Leadership-visible-to-the-masses is the spark plug; the inspiration; the moral clarity; THE PROOF OF IMPORTANCE THAT INSPIRES COMMITTED ACTION IN OTHERS. Leadership of this kind, in sufficient quantity is - the price to Save Darfur. Until the "price" is paid, the genocide will not stop, no matter what else we do. We can do everything else right (and these are NECESSARY): advertising, PR, rallies, celebrity participation, strategy, Sudan Envoys... but without the ignition, without the spark-plug we've got our "O ring," our efforts will crash in defeat, and 4,000,000 family members in Darfur are exterminated. I have been begging for two years for such effort: 9/23/04: 10/17/04: 8/11/05: 8/14/05: 7/11/06: 8/16/06: 8/22/05: So Jay, does all this make you right? What matters is: 1. Might it be correct?; 2. That YOU decide, correctly, in time. As Reverend Gloria said in NYC on Sunday, “It’s about T-I-M-E.” Someone(s) cried out about the "O ring" long, long before the Challenger exploded. I'm sure of it. He/She/They were blown off as troublemaker, renegade, lone ranger, loner, outsider, not-a-team-player.... The Challenger exploded. All that was left were, regrets. Jay McGinley ( 484-356-6243 DARFUR VIGIL DAY 116 (now in NYC)

Zyme on :

Calm down, what do you expect? We are living on a different continent and we have our own buisness to worry about. It is not our duty to improve the world, but to make our own living. Darfur is a region with various interests, and the most valuable trade good the africans have need for is weaponry. There are whole industries behind this - industries that are vital to the national strength of every country involved.

Bill on :

Yeah Jay, you need to calm down man. Otherwise people will start blocking your comments on their blogs, which is contra-productive to what you are attempting to do online for the people of Darfur. Thanks for the tip on the Kosmoblog post Jörg. Is that an official blog of the Die Zeit newspaper? Have you read or heard anything about the Day for Darfur rally in Berlin on Sunday? I haven't heard zip on German radio or TV. Any idea which politicians or civic leaders in Germany were in attendance and delivered speeches at the Berlin Day for Darfur rally? What will Chancellor Merkel or Foreign Minister Steinmeir say about Darfur & Sudan in New York at the 61st UN General Assembly opening session? Zyme, fortunately the majority of people in Germany would strongly disagree with you re: your statement "Darfur is a region with various interests, and the most valuable trade good the africans have need for is weaponry." One could attribute such a comment to total ignorance and lack of sympathy for the people affected by the brutal murders and rapes and ethnic cleansing that has taken place all over Sudan for more than two decades. But such comments may also speak of something darker than general apathy and ignorance about Darfur taking place in certain sectors of the German public, evidenced by the steady rise of neo-nazi strength in the society i.e. extreme right-wing politicians winning double-digit voter support and taking more and more seats in the parliaments of Germany's eastern states. Reference the September 17th general election results in MacPom (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) and the ongoing national debate over the proposed neo-nazi training and cultural center debacle in Delmenhorst bei Bremen. So you are right, Deutschland has some very serious problems to clean-up at home first before it goes marching off to save some poor destitute blacks facing genocide down in Africa. Free trade zone with the EU? What free trade zone? Do we need it?

ROA on :

Bill is right Jay. You need to calm down because it is obvious that there really isn't any genocide going on in Sudan. How do I know this? Because Bush/Hitler claimed that their was, thats how! On August 18, 2005, president Bush/Hitler disagreed with the UN and claimed that the killings in Sudan constituted genocide. Now everyone knows that the UN is the worlds sole moral authority and that Bush/Hitler is evil incarnate. Therefore it follows that the Sudanese are probably living in the lap of luxury with many more civil liberties than exist in Fascist Amerika under Bush/Hitler. I am sure he was just spreading those lies as an excuse to invade another flourishing democracy. So please calm down and concern yourself with more serious issues such as how Carl Rove was able to trick Richard Armitage into revealing Valerie Plame's name to the press.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Bill > Is that an > official blog of the Die Zeit newspaper? Ulrich Speck runs this blog and it is hosted on Die Zeit homepage. He has written extensively on Darfur, [url=]for example here.[/url] > Have you read or > heard anything about the Day for Darfur rally in Berlin on > Sunday? I didn't, but my lack of evidence of media reports is not evidence of the lack of media reports, to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld ;-) Though, I guess it is save to say that the Global Darfur Day was pretty much ignored in German MSM and blogosphere. Different in US MSM? Darfur is a much bigger issue in the US and the US has donated much more money and provided more relief aid than the EU. However, the US is not considering to send troops to Darfur either. > Any idea > which politicians or civic leaders in Germany were in > attendance and delivered speeches at the Berlin Day for > Darfur rally? Kerstin Müller, MdB (Bündnis 90/DIE GRÜNEN), Hartwig Fischer, MdB (CDU), Gabriele Groneberg, MdB (SPD) and Marina Schuster, MdB (FDP) basically all said we need to put more pressure on Khartoum and the international community has to act, acccording to the [url=]German Society for Threatened Peoples.[/url] Such phrases are pretty lame and boring and insufficient. Americans and Europeans are just shouting that the UN should act. Well, who is "the UN"? Americans and Europeans are part of the UN... I just read that Merkel did discuss Darfur with the Chinese Prime Minister and wrote an update. Let's hope the UN meetings will make a difference. I will try to write more. I agree with your assessment of Zyme's comment. > right-wing politicians winning double-digit voter support and They gained votes on Sunday, but haven't reached double-digit support in any of the German state parliaments. Single digit is bad enough.

Bill on :

Thanks Jörg for those updates and that link to the Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker website. I am familiar with Kerstin Müller's (German Green Party) position on Darfur and her engagement with the Darfur Crisis under the Rot/Grün Coalition government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. As you have pointed out, high-ranking German politicians (and civic leaders) have up to now not been very forceful or convincing in their words or actions re: the Crisis in Darfur. Could it be that German business interests in the region outweigh their lukewarm support for human rights and good governance in Sudan? It seems as if the GfbV was one of the lead German partners for the Global Day for Darfur Campaign Sep 17th. This quote from the organization's president in their Sep 18th press release (UN Geneva) was particularly interesting to read: "Wenn nötig muss die Entsendung einer Friedenstruppe mit robustem Mandat auch gegen den Willen der sudanesischen Regierung geschehen. Nur so kann der Völkermord an der schwarzafrikanischen, muslimischen Bevölkerung des Westsudan, schnell beendet werden", bekräftige Tilman Zülch, Präsident der GfbV-International, die Politikeräußerungen. Nach Schätzungen der GfbV und der Internationalen Bewegung "Save Darfur" / "Rettet Darfur", der auch die GfbV angeschlossen ist, sind diesem Genozid bereits 400 000 Menschen zum Opfer gefallen. Basically Herr Tilman Zülch is saying "send in the troops (UN blue helmets) whether the Government of Sudan likes it or not. I'll wait to see how Foreign Minister Steinmeier deals with the issue at the UN General Assembly meetings in New York this week. Chancellor Merkel needs to be more outspoken on this issue and clear about Germany's position on the UN Resolution 1706 (and related UN resolutions on Darfur). Will Germany work together with the U.S. and other countries to enforce these resolutions or not? She needs to clear this up, particularly as one of the most powerful women leaders in the world. After all, it's women and children who are facing the greatest danger in Darfur and I know that she is not neutral about this crisis. BTW: President Bush threw down the Darfur gauntlet at the feet of the GoS, the UN, and the "international community" yesterday during his address to the UN General Assembly. Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was in the General Assembly chambers listening attentively to every word. He along with a number of his investors and supporters did not look very happy about the speech at all, as Bush made it clear that as far as the U.S.A. is concerned what is going on in Darfur is G-E-N-O-C-I-D-E and that the UN (member countries) must act to stop it, with or without the permission of the GoS and Omar al-Bashir. He went on to say that America and NATO would help to provide military logistic support to AU/UN forces and increased financial assistance to those forces. I am hopeful that the Pentagon under the orders of the Bush Administration and with the full support of the U.S. Congress would also use combat forces (air/sea) to shutdown any concerted attack by General Omar al-Bahsir and the GoS military against the UN Peacekeeping forces operating in Darfur. The Sudanese president is meeting with a special session of the African Union Security Council today in New York. I'm anxious to learn how that last ditch effort meeting will turnout for the AU and Sudan. Bahsir needs a way to save face while at the same time backing down on his threat to use Holy War against any UN forces entering Darfur.

Zyme on :

@ Bill Foreigners trying to identify the character of german foreign policy, always an opportunity to smile :) Have you ever taken a look at the inscription above the main entrance of the Reichstag in Berlin? It reminds each Member of Parliament on what to worry about primarily, each day he or she is going to work. And if you speak german, this might help solve the riddle: Now which finished products are in greater demand in Darfur than weapons? Come on, name a few if you know some! "fortunately the majority of people in Germany would strongly disagree" Ahh, fortunately the majority of the people do not decide about our foreign or economical politics. They might start to abolish all taxes, force breweries to hand out beer for free and start a fistfight for the right to take a seat at the foreign minister´s chair! :D Seriously, that is why those positions are handed to professionals, don`t you agree?

Tcobb on :

That's a really great argument against democracy. Just hand it over to the Wise, and don't ask any questions, or else bad things will happen to you, and its all of course for the common good. Because the Wise are wise indeed. If you doubt it just ask them. They'll tell you how much better they can run your life than you ever could.

Bill on :

Zyme, I think that it is very important that concerned citizens of the world work for a better understanding of the foreign policies of our respective allies and partners as well as our enemies, don't you? That's what the purpose of the Atlantic Review is all about, working for a better understanding between the people of Germany and the U.S.A. through the sharing of knowledge and dialogue. In regards to your comment about which finished products are more in demand (in Sudan) other than weapons... you seem to want to continually demean and dehumanize the people of Darfur and Sudan, if not all people of sub-Saharan Africa. This is why I made the statement earlier about the rise of neo-nazis in Germany, as they would be of the same mentality as you project in your statements. But I will answer your question with another? If all that the people of Sudan seek are more weapons, why is the German government funding trade exhibition participation in Khartoum for at least 2-3 years running now? Are the German businesses who participate in the annual Sudan Investment and Trade Fair there to sell weapons and munitions? Are you in agreement that German taxpayers should support these companies that participate in these trade fairs? O.K., that's 3 questions but who's counting. Lastly, if you live in a country where the voters and even the future voters (young people under 18) do not have a say in the policies of their government or any influence on what politicians do, then you don't live in the Federal Republic of Germany that I know. The Reichstag you speak of with the script across its grand portals reading "Dem Deutschen Volk" would not be that magnificently restored building sitting at the heart of Berlin today, but instead would be that burntout shell of a defeated and maddened empire (Reich) that was all too familiar with policies of Menschenvernichtung und Völkermord. Those policies too were left up to thousands of "professionals" who were acting in the best interest of the German people, or so they thought.

Zyme on :

@ Bill Generally I agree to the government when supporting our export rates - especially in the military industries. Naturally, those countries which experience the most bitter kind of wars have the greatest need for weapons. Those companies that benefit from such developments directly or indirectly have become a key factor in our national strength. Only a continuous flow of money enables them to be at the spearhead of research. That is why we no longer have to rely on foreign weapon manufacturers. We build our own warships, submarines, tanks, handguns and (in a european cooperation) airplanes. How many countries on earth are capable of that? And how many countries would be capable of this after what our country looked like at the end of the last war? By this development, we have regained sovereignty and independence. A wise policy, don´t you agree?

Jay McGinley on :

Zyme - #2 - 2006-09-19 10:29: Hm, there is a form of life that focusses upon itself. We know it as cancer. That is the form of life I have embraced for most of my days. I think I am in the process of curing this "cancer" within myself. I hope so. And the joy, peace and love that come with renewed "health" is vastly superior to the way life felt before. Bill - #3 - 2006-09-19 13:57: My responsibility is to be as constructive and helpful to my sisters and brothers as possible. When they decide to block my attempts (a REGULAR occurance) that is NOT my responsibility, but theirs. Oh, I care deeply about keeping communication open, but communication is worthless if it is not used for what really matters. And mass attrocities really matter. ROA - #4 - 2006-09-19 14:44: No doubt that the greatest threat to planet earth is represented by the Bush Administration / Cartel / Oligarchy featuring Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice.... Sorry. The greater problem, however, is that we-the-American-people let them steal office not once, but twice! So, what is to be done? The reason we let them in office is because we have come to ferrociously embrace "cancer" as health: selfishness has become our religion here in the us. What is called "Christianity" here is just what we use like bathroom deodorizer to disguise the stench of our dying, cancerous lifesyle. DARFUR, and responding to the mass attrocities there (Genocide by any other name....) is our greatest opportunity here (and where you are I suspect) to excercize, strengthen and thereby regain the Humanity that we will need to recognize and oust the Fasciest regime that we have given ourselves over to.

Bill on :

Thanks Jay for the comeback. You are welcome over at my place (blog) anytime. Actually I and others should be in admiration of your efforts and conviction to the tragedy facing the people in Darfur. At least you go out on the streets and try to do something about it. I'd watch that getting arrested in front of the White House though, they (the U.S. Secret Service) have been known to get kinda violent with unruly protestors climbing over fences and stuff. I believe that finally after more than 3 1/2 years of delays and discussions and debates and general BS re: Darfur the world community is at the crossroads on this crisis. Either we go in to provide proper security and humanitarian assistance to these desperate people, or we let them die in the hundreds-of-thousands more. Sort of a 21st Century Slo-Mo Rwanda in the making. If it turns out to be the latter scenario, most people will simply go on with their lives with a clean conscience, claiming there was nothing we could do to stop it or that it was not a priority in my country's national interests.

Zyme on :

@ Jay McGinley There is even one more life form that focusses upon itself, I think it is known as "human beings" :D Unequality enables progress - since only when ressources are abundant in a society, art and research become possible. If we spreaded all ressources equally among humanity, nobody would hunger - but we would be like animals, focussing only on food and biological reproduction. Thus, by shaping the world and it`s nations the way we have a use for, we arise above animals.

David on :

"focussing only on food and biological reproduction." hmmm, sex and eating? Doesn't sound so bad...

Zyme on :


Jay McGinley on :

Zyme - #8 - 2006-09-19 21:30 - (Reply) Hmm. History would support your assertion to a degree. However: DEGREE MATTERS: Would you advicate for an acceleration of US averace and unbridaled pursuit of empire? Certainly that would move us more to the "health" you are suggesting is the standard for our species. WITHIN BIOLOGICAL FAMILIES: Seems like a good idea, based on what you are advocating, to foster the idea that within biological families parents should deliberately skew the allocation of any and all resources away from some of their own children, and toward others. This shurely would result in more artists and researchers. And politicians. (There was a prominent politician from Germany in the 30's and 40's as I recall from such a depraved background. NO, I am not meaning to be cute, crude or rude. Honest, on a mortally important issue.)

Anonymous on :

Bill - #7.1 - 2006-09-20 14:12 Thanks Bill for your kind comments. If we do not stop the Genocide in Darfur, and many of us that don't try to the extreme, will go on with clear conciences as you say, but we will also go on with emptier lives and hearts, and with much less meaning in our lives, than if we join in the Struggle for Darfur, and the struggle to regain some of the humanity that out 20th/21st century cultures is fast pealing away from us.

Zyme on :

@ Jay McGinley "Would you advicate for an acceleration of US averace and unbridaled pursuit of empire? Certainly that would move us more to the "health" you are suggesting is the standard for our species." Americans have proven to be unable at administrating foreign countries. Europe has proven differently. So the best thing for we could do now is replace transatlantic structures by creating european counterparts. The militarization of EU politics has started recently, so it will be a matter of time. And as soon as our military capabilities match our economical ones, we should try to increase our military engagement in the world up to the point of 1900, if we are willing to shape the world again. Without a vision nothing can be achieved.

mbast on :

A transatlantic free trade zone, eh? Must've heard that one before...somewhere ;-). And why would it be so catastrophic? I confess I'm not an economist, but it works in Europe and it works for NAFTA, why shouldn't it work between the US and Europe? Europe and the US are amongst the largest global players when it comes to economics. Join them together and you get a really powerful momentum towards a global economy. At least, that's my (admittedly uninformed) opinion. Was sagen denn die Volkswirte dazu ;-)? Zyme: German foreign policy is by no means oriented on the perceived well-being of the German people ONLY. That kind of approach died a very violent death a long time ago, if you don't mind my saying so. Considering German history, I'd even say it's quite the opposite. Germany (and particularly the German government) feels a very strong responsibility towards the international community. Remember all the talk about "unsere Verpflichtung gegenüber der Völkergemeinschaft" when the discussion concerning the out-of-area military actions started? German foreign policy is a constant "Eiertanz" between that perception of responsibility and a reluctance to impose German values/policies etc. on other nations (due to an inherent fear of falling back into the "Am deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen" adage of Nazi rule). Not a lot of German-centered selfishness in there, methinks. And as for Darfur: that problem can only be solved by the international community, not by Germany on its own. Since the US seem to be out of the picture on that one (logistic support, yeah, right), the EU will have to get off its duff and act. Doesn't look like it at the moment, though, but who knows....

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