Europe

Japan, Germany praise free trade as US goes protectionist

Published: 4:00 AM, March 21, 2017
Updated: 5:16 AM, March 21, 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke up for free trade at a major technology fair yesterday with jabs clearly pointed at an increasingly protectionist United States.

Both called for a free trade deal to be reached quickly between Japan and the European Union (EU), in comments made after G20 finance ministers and central bankers dropped a long-standing mention of open trade in their final communique after a two-day meeting in Germany.

Neither leader named the US government as they opened the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, Germany, but both used the opportunity to distance themselves from protectionist tendencies coming from the Trump administration.

“We want free and open markets. In times when we have to argue with many about free trade, open borders and democratic values, it’s a good sign that Japan and Germany no longer argue about this but rather are seeking to shape the future in a way that benefits people,” Mrs Merkel said.

As G20 president, Germany feels especially committed to these principles, she added.

She stressed that Germany was strongly in favour of free trade and open markets.

“We certainly don’t want any barriers but at a time of an ‘Internet of things’ we want to link our societies with one another and let them deal fairly with one another, and that is what free trade is all about,” she said.

Speaking at the same event, Mr Abe said: “Japan, having gone through reaping in abundance the benefits of free trade and investment, wants to be the champion upholding open systems alongside Germany.”

He added: “Of course to do so it will be necessary to have rules that are fair and can stand up to democratic appraisal. We must not create conditions by which wealth becomes concentrated among only some people.” AGENCIES