BUSINESS

Transatlantic Trade Pacts The Target Of Massive Berlin Protest

10/10/2015 11:57 EDT | Updated 10/10/2015 11:59 EDT
Axel Schmidt via Getty Images
BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 10: More than 100.000 protesters gather to demonstrate against the TTIP and CETA trade accords on October 10, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Berlin to protest against TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement), both of them trade agreements currently under negotiation between the USA for TTIP and Canada for CETA with the European Union. Critics in Germany oppose the accords for a number of reasons, including fears over genetically-modified foods, environmental standards, workers' rights and pharmaceuticals. Photo by Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

BERLIN (AP) — Tens of thousands of people marched through downtown Berlin on Saturday to protest planned transatlantic free trade pacts.

Police said around 100,000 took part in the demonstration, while organizers claimed 250,000 turned out, banging on drums, chanting slogans and waving signs and flags opposing the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, with the United States, and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada.

Germany's government has pushed the TTIP, saying it will boost the global economy and give smaller and mid-sized companies a better chance at competing on the world market while reducing bureaucracy.

Protesters, organized by the Confederation of German Trade Unions, known by its acronym DGB, worry that an agreement could lower food safety standards and undermine local regulations by giving international arbitration panels the power to rule over disputes.

One float in the protest showed Chancellor Angela Merkel lighting the fuse of a bomb while sitting on a building labeled "Democracy."

The European Union and United States have been negotiating since 2013 on TTIP and supporters hope it will gain momentum now that the U.S., Japan and other Pacific Rim nations have reached an agreement on the TPP.