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Merkel in Latin America

Commitment to free trade and climate protection

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Argentina and Mexico in preparation for the G20 summit. Topics included economic and trade policy and climate protection. Talks also focused on the human rights situation in Mexico and the situation of journalists threatened by violence and persecution.

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel is welcomed by Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico. After her visit to Argentina, Chancellor Merkel was welcomed by Mexican President Peña Nieto. Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler

Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Argentina on Wednesday. On Friday she went on to Mexico. The trip was in preparation for the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg in July.

Generating stability through the work of the G20

Apart from bilateral questions, the Federal Chancellor and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto discussed the G20 agenda, into which Mexico and Germany invested a considerable amount of joint work. The Chancellor also explicitly thanked Mexico for its support in preparing the summit. "We agreed that we naturally wish to contribute together to creating a certain degree stability in an unsettled world through the work of the G20," said Merkel.

Intensifying cooperation

The Chancellor was impressed by the many reforms Mexico has set in motion, especially in the economic field. These have led to a significant improvement in the investment climate, Merkel said at a joint press conference with President Peña Nieto on Friday evening.

Chancellor Merkel thanked Mexico "for the clear commitment to free trade". Both leaders hope to quickly conclude the new EU-Mexico free trade agreement and to intensify political cooperation: "This global agreement also contains a renewed free-trade agreement, but its scope is much wider than that. It is also about broad-based political cooperation," explained Merkel.

"We are also pleased that we can work together in the area of the Paris agreement and climate protection," Merkel said in Mexico City.

Ensuring the protection of journalists

Merkel and Peña Nieto also talked about the human rights situation and the importance of journalistic freedoms. "Democracies can only live when freedom of expression reigns, and journalists working independently are those who especially embody this freedom of expression", the Chancellor said, adding that she is pleased that many reinforcement measures have been implemented in order to ensure the protection of journalists. "We would like to help in any way we can”, she insisted.

Last year, Germany and Mexico once again expanded their cooperation in the field of rule of law promotion. "We know how dramatic it is when people disappear. In such cases, it is a matter of the utmost importance that sentences actually be handed out, that the culprits be punished and that they atone for what they have done”, said Merkel. That is why the Federal Government is working closely with Mexico’s Office of the General Prosecutor, but also with associations helping victims.

Mexico: Germany Year, Hannover Messe and industry 4.0

After a meeting with leading political, civil society and religious figures in Mexico, Merkel today attended the closing event of Mexico’s Germany Year. The more than 1,000 events staged have attracted more than 3.5 million visitors.

The previous evening, the Chancellor had stressed the special importance of the year: "According to all which I have heard, this has been a very successful year during which not only politicians talked, but, above all, the people of our countries had the opportunity to get to know each other better and to learn more about the cultures."

President Peña Nieto expressed thanks to the Hannover Messe for having invited Mexico to be its Partner Country in 2018. He stressed once more Mexico’s willingness to "strengthen our relations and work towards greater prosperity for our citizens".

The last highlight in Mexico was a business forum on industry 4.0 and dual training.

Argentina's "courageous reform path"

Previously, the Chancellor had visited Argentina for the first time. As she and President Mauricio Macri delivered a joint statement to the press on Thursday, Merkel praised the country’s "courageous reform path", which makes the country stronger economically and which opened it to the world. Angela Merkel also pledged that Germany would support Argentina’s efforts to join the OECD.

"We are happy that we are partners in a world that believes in rule-based cooperation, and we support Argentina in its reforms." During her visit to Buenos Aires, the Chancellor thus expressed her agreement with President Mauricio Macri on key issues.

Argentina’s climate targets "very ambitious"

Angela Merkel underscored the common ground between the two countries in the field of climate policy. She was impressed that Argentina had set itself "even more ambitious" climate targets within the framework of the Paris Agreement on climate change. There is still much scope for action on expanding Argentina’s energy supply, she said. German companies could make a contribution. The field of renewable energy is an area in which Germany has a great deal of experience, said Angela Merkel.

Chancellor in favour of EU trade agreement with "Mercosur" states

Another point on the agenda during her meeting with President Mauricio Macri was economic and trade policy. The WTO Ministerial Conference will take place in Argentina at the end of 2017. "We both reaffirm our commitment to free trade and a multilateral trade system," said the Chancellor.

At the same time, the chance exists to enter into bilateral agreements, for instance between the European Union and the "Mercosur" states. She said she supports Argentina’s wish to see swift progress in this context. "Our experience in Germany and in the EU is that all trade agreements we have entered into with various regions of the world have generated jobs. And thus prosperity for the people – and that is what it is all about," stressed Angela Merkel.

Mercosur (the market of the south) is the common market founded in 1991 by the South American states of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Venezuela’s membership is suspended at present. Bolivia joined Mercosur in 2014, but its accession has not yet been ratified by all member states.
The EU is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with Mercosur. Negotiations have experienced a new momentum since the second half of 2016. The most recent round of negotiations was successfully completed on 24 March 2017.

Extremely close cooperation on the G20 agenda

Angela Merkel also discussed the current German G20 Presidency. Argentina will take over the Presidency next year. Angela Merkel thanked President Mauricio Macri for the "extremely close cooperation" on the G20 agenda. "Argentina is providing very strong support here, and next year we hope we can reciprocate, given the support that we are now receiving". Angela Merkel reiterated that Argentina in particular very much strengthens the G20 motto "Shaping an interconnected world".

Places of remembrance

Before her meeting with President Macri, Angela Merkel visited the "Templo de Libertad" (Temple of Freedom) synagogue in Buenos Aires.

This synagogue is an impressive symbol of Jewish life in the city, declared Angela Merkel. "Many people of the Jewish faith who were forced to flee the crimes of the National Socialists found a new home here." That is why this synagogue is also a "bridge between Argentina and Germany". In the synagogue, the Chancellor officially unveiled an organ which had been damaged in Germany during the National Socialist regime. It has now been restored in Argentina with German funding. Argentina’s Jewish community is the largest in Latin America.

The Chancellor also visited the Parque de la Memoria (Park of Memories) to pay her respects to the victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship (1976-1983). She praised the way the country has since addressed the crimes committed during that period.

Later, the Chancellor spoke to scientists and students at the city’s Polo Científico Tecnológico Science Centre.

Jun 10, 2017