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 on Monday (NZ Time), Ardern would travel to Berlin for her first meeting with Merkel on Tuesday night.
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 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 cooperation in preserving the international rules-based system set out by the World Trade Organisation.
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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, said Ardern.
“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 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 6th 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 would be giving a major speech on trade at Berlin’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation, overnight, New Zealand time.
She will then head to London for talks with Theresa May, a private audience with the Queen and to attend the Commonwealth heads of Government meeting with about 50 other world leaders, including Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.