European and US trade officials arrived in Berlin yesterday to try to drum up support for a transatlantic trade deal that faces growing opposition in Europe's biggest economy.
Support among the German public for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has fallen sharply over the past year, with many worrying it will weaken food, environmental and car safety standards and give US firms too much power. Only 41pc of Germans think TTIP is a good thing, according to a Pew Research poll published last month, down from 55pc a year earlier. In contrast, 50pc of Americans are in favour.
Alarmed by the level of resistance, the German government is now organising open meetings to try and dispel fears about the pact.
"We have a unique opportunity here, we're both high-wage, well-regulated economies," said US trade representative Michael Froman, who flew in for the forum with students and school children in Berlin.
"That gives us the opportunity to work together to help set standards around the world. Nobody wants a race to the bottom."
Proponents say a deal would strengthen a transatlantic trade relationship by removing barriers to business and bolster the West's power to shape world trade.
"We Europeans may feel like we're economically strong and powerful. But if we're honest with ourselves there are fewer and fewer of us," Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said, referring to declining population.