Merkel Shift Paves Way for German Vote on Same Sex Marriage

German Chancellor Angela Merkel bottom left attends the transmission of a speech of US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on screen during a reception of the Economy Council of the German Christian Democratic Party in Berlin Germany Tuesday

Trade has turned into a contentious issue between Germany and the United States under U.S. President Donald Trump, who advocates more protectionist policies while Germany has made free and fair trade one of its priorities in its Group of 20 presidency. "Now we look forward to the chancellor's speech".

Germany's parliament is set on Friday to vote to allow marriages between people of the same sex, embarrassing Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and handing her Social Democrat (SPD) challengers a rare victory months before a national election. German officials said earlier that Ross had canceled a trip to Berlin to address the meeting in person.

"As your biggest customer, we hope to obtain a larger share of your market", he said.

"My vision of globalisation is that in the global and interconnected world we need a rules-based trade system where all sides can win", Merkel said.

However, Ross sided with Merkel saying the US and the European Union should restart Transatlantic Trade an Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Bent on tackling trade deficits, the Trump Administration now appears to have its heart set on reducing the trade imbalance with European Union states, Germany in particular, in the hope it can open up their markets for U.S. firms. Trump said Germany is selling too many cars in the USA, which hurts the American automotive industry.

Germany's trade surplus over the US - which amounted to around $65 billion in 2016 - creates jobs for Americans, according to Merkel.

"We have absolutely no ground to believe that German steel exports to the USA pose a threat to the country's security", ministry spokeswoman Tanja Alemany told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.

But immediately after her decision, SPD leaders moved to bring a vote to the floor of the full parliament, arguing that by making it a matter of conscience Merkel had released her coalition partner from its commitment not to hold a vote.

Merkel plans to stand for a fourth term as Chancellor later this year.

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