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The Chancellor visits Canada

Angela Merkel would like to see a free trade agreement

Chancellor Angela Merkel has now returned from a two-day trip to Canada. Talks with the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper focussed on the euro crisis and a free trade agreement between the EU and Canada.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the parliament building In Ottawa: Chancellor Angela Merkel meets the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Angela Merkel had set herself three goals for her visit – to forge closer political relations, to revive trade and to further develop academic and research links. There is scope in particular in the fields of raw materials and renewables, declared the Chancellor.

Certain friends in a very uncertain world

In view of the euro crisis, the Chancellor praised the path that Canada has taken. The country has demonstrated rigorous budgetary discipline while setting a course for more growth, and has managed to emerge from the financial crisis. "Canada not only passes on good advice to others, but actually practices what it preaches," said Angela Merkel following a meeting with Stephen Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister.

He praised the Chancellor’s pro-active role in trying to overcome the euro crisis. "We in Canada admire her unshakable determination to find good, sustainable solutions." Canada and Germany are, he said, "certain friends in a very uncertain world".

In addition to the international financial and sovereign debt crisis, and the economic impacts thereof, security-policy issues were on the agenda, with Syria figuring largely.

EU-Canada free trade agreement

During her visit to Ottawa the Chancellor pledged her support for the planned free trade agreement between Canada and the EU. She will do everything in her power to bring the negotiations, which have been ongoing for three years, to a swift conclusion, she said, after talks with the Canadian Prime Minister. "Germany is committed to bringing this free trade agreement to a rapid conclusion," said Angela Merkel. A few points must still be clarified, including intellectual property rights and the services sector.

Cooperation in the extractive sector

The extractive sector, in which Germany and Canada cooperate, is vitally important. This cooperation is to be stepped up.

"Canada is one of the world’s largest suppliers of raw materials," declared the Chancellor. There are many opportunities for us to work closely for decades to come, and to find common solutions to extraction problems. "Since we know that Canada is a fair trading partner, we believe that this is a field in which we can invest well," said the Chancellor.

In the field of renewable energies too, cooperation is to be stepped up. German businesses aim to further expand exports in the renewable energies and energy efficiency sectors.

Bilateral economic relations with Canada are close and are developing dynamically. In 2011, German exports to Canada rose by 14% and now stand at 7.8 billion euros. Canadian exports to Germany rose by 27% in 2011 and now stand at 5.3 billion euros. Trade is thus already at a high level and is demonstrating robust growth.

Cooperation in the academic and research sector

Angela Merkel wound up her two-day visit to Canada with a visit to a marine and freshwater research facility in Halifax, on the eastern seaboard of Canada. Research scientists and students at Dalhousie University explained the priority areas of German-Canadian cooperation in oceanic and polar research. At the Aquatron aquatic research facility, marine creatures can be studied and habitats such as rocky coastlines can be reproduced.

A declaration of intent relating to the continuation of cooperation in the field of science and research focussed on a German-Canadian partnership in oceanic research. Germany is one of the few countries with which Canada has concluded an agreement on scientific and technical cooperation. According to the figures of the German government more than 500 binational projects are currently underway in the field of science and research.

Germany and Canada share the same values and basic convictions. This is reflected, for instance, in Afghanistan, in policy on the third world, in disarmament and arms issues and in the United Nations, Within the United Nations, the two countries work together on issues of security and disarmament, human rights, humanitarian activities and peacekeeping measures.

During the era of the two German states, when the Iron Curtain divided Europe, the two countries were linked in a very special way. In the defence of common values, Canada demonstrated its solidarity with the Federal Republic of Germany. Many contacts have come about not only through German emigrants to Canada, but through the over 300,000 troops who served at Canadian military bases in Germany up to 1993.

German and Canadian research scientists are cooperating successfully in many fields: in medicine and health, green biotechnology, new materials, information and communication technologies and space research. Cooperation in the fields of energy and environmental research are becoming increasingly important, for instance in the development of fuel cells.

Aug 17, 2012