U.S. 'open for business' as Obama opens Hannover Messe

President pushes Transatlantic trade deal as America begins to showcase manufacturing at week-long global trade fair.

04/25/2016


President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel share a smile during the opening ceremony of Hannover Messe 2016 in Hannover Germany on April 24. Courtesy: Hannover MesseHANNOVER, GERMANY: President Obama declared the United States "open for business" and delivered strong support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as part of the opening ceremony of Hannover Messe 2016. The United States is the Partner Country at Hannover Messe for the first time in the 70-year history of the event, and Obama received a warm welcome German chancellor Angela Merkel and from the 3,000 guests at the Hannover Centrum on Sunday, April 24.

"Our guest is the biggest economy of the world, the most important trading partner of Germany, the United States," said Stefan Schostok, lord mayor of Hannover, who opened the evening's events. "We are proud for very first time to welcome an American president to our trade show. Welcome Mr. President."

Obama returned the warmth, and noted the historical significance of his attendance. "I'm pleased that this year, the United States is the Partner Country for the very first time. I am honored to be first U.S. president to attend Hannover Messe," said Obama, who noted that in 2016, Germans also are celebrating the 500th anniversary of its beer purity law. "I may join you in that celebration," he said.

While the United States is looking to highlight its potential as a global importer of manufacturing companies and jobs, the opening ceremony featured two of America's great cultural exports. Members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed interpretive dance to gospel music, and singers from the Broadway musical Wicked performed two songs: "For Good" and "Defying Gravity."

The opening also included a presentation where robots and humans worked and even danced together, a continuation of the "Connected Industry" theme of Hannover Messe 2016.

Obama said the strong economic ties between the U.S. and Germany began at the end of World War II, just two years before the first Hannover Messe was staged. Since then, Obama said the two countries are each other's closest allies in trade and economic development.

"We're ready to do even more business with Germany, more business with Europe and more business with the world," Obama said. "As president, I've worked to make sure we are sustaining the spirit of innovation." Among those innovations, Obama said, was the full 3D printing of an electric car during the fair. "Angela, maybe you and I can go driving," Obama joked to Merkel. "I'll ask the Secret Service."

In addition, Obama said that the U.S. is now the top exporter of German goods. "We need to build on that success," he said.

In that light, Obama and Merkel gave a strong endorsement on TTIP negotiations, which Obama said needs to be completed in 2016. "We can't let this opportunity pass," said Obama. "The United States is prepared to make an agreement this year."

Obama and Merkel both said the final TTIP agreement would raise labor, safety and environmental standards and improve trade by lowering barriers. And both acknowledged the oppositions to the agreement from factions in each country, including a protest in the streets of Hannover on the previous day. "The answer is not to pull up drawbridge and stop trade," Obama said. "We can do trade the right way. TTIP will not lower standards; it will raise standards even higher."

Also at the opening ceremony, the 2016 Hermes Award for innovation was presented to Harting Gmbh for its Modular Industrial Computer Architecture (MICA). The small computer allows legacy systems to connect through a network.

Bob Vavra, content manager, CFE Media, bvavra@cfemedia.com.

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