German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke up for free trade at a major technology fair on Sunday with jabs clearly pointed at an increasingly protectionist United States.
Shinzo Abe said on Sunday that the European Union and Japan should soon reach an economic deal, and stressed the importance of free trade to his country.
“We must conclude an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the EU at an early time,” Abe said at the opening of the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, northern Germany.
Both Abe and Merkel called for a free trade deal to be reached quickly between Japan and the European Union, 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 U.S. government as they opened the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, but both used the opportunity to distance themselves from protectionist tendencies coming from the Trump administration.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Bild am Sonntag newspaper he was pleased that he would be meeting Abe on Tuesday and said the bloc wanted to conclude a free trade deal with Japan this year.
Abe also said he will visit Russia in late April for a summit with President Vladimir Putin.
Abe has pledged to resolve a decades-old territorial dispute with Russia over a string of western Pacific islands in the hope of building better ties to counter a rising China.
The two sides had agreed to demand that North Korea, which has carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of UN sanctions, halt its provocations.