German Parliament set to vote Friday on gay marriage

US commerce secretary backs free trade deal with Europe

German audience laughs after Trump Cabinet member's address cut off

The part of Ross's remarks that were shown involved "renewed criticism of Germany's trade surplus with the US", according to Bloomberg, which reports that attendees at the Christian Democratic Union's conference "laughed and clapped" when the secretary's speech was cut short.

"As you saw, he spoke a bit slowly, so it took a bit longer. Now we look forward to the chancellor's speech".

Joining the modern world, Germany is likely to legalize same-sex marriage this week after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to the measure.

Ross' comments included renewed criticism of Germany's trade surplus with the US, which President Donald Trump has used repeatedly to pillory Europe's biggest economy.

Mr Ross has previously said he hoped to complete by the end of June a national security study of the United States steel industry that could result in broad new steel import restrictions.

Ross' address comes one week before the Merkel and Trump will meet with their worldwide counterparts at the G-20 summit in Hamburg.

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

She "rejected [Ross's] criticism of Germany's surplus", says Bloomberg, then advocated direct investment in the German companies.

Trump administration officials told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that new steel tariffs were among trade options under consideration against China for Beijing's inaction on reining in North Korea and on worldwide trade issues. If a vote takes place, it is expected to pass, as nearly all other political parties represented in the German parliament support gay marriage, and at least a quarter of Merkel's own party will likely also vote in favor.

Germany's Economy Ministry later weighed in to the debate, saying Ross's criticism "contained nothing new" and dismissing a report he is compiling on the potential risks to the USA of steel imports - a document that Germany fears could have grave consequences for its own steel industry.

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. At an event in Berlin hosted by a women's magazine, Chancellor Merkel responded to a question from the audience and said opinion polls show that the vast majority of Germans favor marriage equality.

Latest News