President Obama hopes a trade agreement with Europe will be finalized before he leaves office, but the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership faces critics here and abroad.
The president acknowledged there have been "real" and "legitimate" concerns with past international trade deals that have hurt some American workers.
"There has been offshoring, seeking, primarily, low wages or low environmental standards and companies can profit and then sell back those goods-- irrespective of what that's done to the communities that they've left," Obama told CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose in Germany Monday.
But he argued that the only way to change the system was to "engage it, not to withdraw from it."
"Part of our job is not to dismiss concerns about globalization. ... It is to argue, how do we make globalization -- which is not going to be reversed anytime soon -- work for ordinary people? How do we make sure that it's working for communities all across America or here in Europe? And that is something I'm convinced we can do," Obama said.
The president expressed his admiration for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the global leader with whom he's worked with longest during his time in office. He drew similarities between him and Merkel, who he described as his favorite world leader.
"I think that I have an affinity for her and I like to think she has an affinity for me because we're both pretty rational. We both try to analyze a problem and solve it based on facts and reason and common sense," he explained. "You know, she believes in free markets, she believes in liberalism, she believes in democracy, she believes in the free press, she believes in pluralism."
He also called her a "good politician," and commended her response to the refugee crisis in Europe.
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"She's making an argument to the German people that, 'Look, we're prospering now, because people invested in us in a Marshall Plan and helped us during reunification,'" Obama said.
Obama stressed that the refugee crisis was not just a "European problem."
"This is our problem too, for two reasons. One is that, if you have a flood of refugees and it's disorderly, then you know, these are folks who potentially, if not handled properly, could end up being an alienated population inside of Europe that is not assimilated, is not integrated and will be resentful. And that could have an impact in terms of their willingness to engage us and help us on things like counterterrorism," Obama explained. "But more importantly, more strategically, is the strain it's putting on Europe's politics -- the way that it advances far right nationalism -- the degree to which it is encouraging a break up of European unity, that in some cases is being exploited by somebody like Mr. Putin, who says, 'Forget about Europe' [and] look at sort of reasserting the nationalist greatness and anti-Muslim sentiments."
Obama also said the Russian president was "mistaken" in his views of NATO, the European Union and transatlantic unity as a "threat to Russian power."
"I've indicated to him that in fact, a strong, unified Europe working with a strong, outward-looking Russia that is defining its greatness -- not on the basis of military but rather on the basis of its ability to harness the talents of its people for economic good -- that that's the right recipe," Obama said. "So far, he has not been entirely persuaded."