Trade key theme for Ardern-Merkel talks

Waikato Times - - News - STACEY KIRK IN PARIS

Trade wars and the threats of pro­tec­tion­ism, as well as cli­mate change, will be pri­or­ity dis­cus­sion points be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, when the pair sit down for for­mal talks to­mor­row.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron overnight, Ardern will travel to Ber­lin for her first meet­ing with Merkel, rated the world’s most pow­er­ful woman.

Trade is set to be a key theme, how­ever Ger­many has been pub­licly sup­port­ive of a free trade deal be­tween New Zealand and the Euro­pean Union (EU) and mak­ing the case for it was less likely to dom­i­nate the talk in the way it would with Macron.

But as the United States and China be­gin to im­pose tit-for-tat tar­iffs in a wors­en­ing trade war, Ardern and Merkel are likely to dis­cuss aligned in­ter­ests and ar­eas of co-op­er­a­tion in pre­serv­ing the in­ter­na­tional rules-based sys­tem set out by the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

And the rise of pro­tec­tion­ism, which threat­ens to fur­ther bol­ster bar­ri­ers to free trade, could set global mar­kets back amid a ris­ing sen­ti­ment against glob­al­i­sa­tion.

If the Sino-US trade war wors­ens, it could prove dev­as­tat­ing for thou­sands of grow­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers on both sides as well as have a last­ing eco­nomic im­pact on a num­ber of global mar­kets.

Ger­many rep­re­sents the largest and most pow­er­ful econ­omy in the EU and it’s been a pow­er­ful ad­vo­cate for mul­ti­lat­eral agree­ments and ad­her­ence to the rules-based sys­tem, both in the EU and fur­ther afield.

New Zealand would have com­mon ground in that area, Ardern said.

‘‘When it comes to trade, for me it’s about rais­ing the in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘We prob­a­bly have some real shared val­ues around mak­ing sure that we guard and pro­tect the in­ter­na­tional rules that we have around trade,’’ she said.

Ardern said she would also be dis­cussing ways to po­ten­tially in­crease move­ment be­tween New Zealand and Ger­many.

‘‘Par­tic­u­larly around our education ex­changes, and also over our work­ing hol­i­day visas.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, Ger­many is New Zealand’s sixth largest trad­ing part­ner, rep­re­sent­ing $5.2 bil­lion in two-way goods and ser­vices trade.

Nearly 80,000 Ger­man tourists visit New Zealand each year, and the coun­try was also New Zealand’s sixth largest education mar­ket and its largest in Europe. About 3500 stu­dents study each year here, and about 15,000 young Ger­mans are granted visas under a work­ing hol­i­day scheme.

Fol­low­ing her meet­ing with Merkel, Ardern will give a ma­jor speech on trade at Ber­lin’s Friedrich Ebert Foun­da­tion.

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