Germany, Japan Push Trade Deal as Merkel Seeks Anti-Trump Allies

Reuters              German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chat Sunday in Hanover Germany

Reuters German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chat Sunday in Hanover Germany

Merkel in her weekly video podcast said: "We want to create a digital single European market".

"In these times of inter-connectedness, we want to link together our societies and work together in an equitable way".

Neither leader named the USA 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. "At a time when we have to quarrel with many about free trade, open borders and democratic values, it's a good sign that Germany and Japan aren't quarreling about that".

A commitment to free trade and defense spending are emerging as the first key dividing lines with the Trump administration, with Germany in the firing line on both counts.

Speaking in front of Merkel and others at Cebit, a world-leading information technology trade fair in Hanover, Abe asked the German leader to "walk alongside" him in the effort.

The clashing views of trade were exposed when Trump told Merkel at a White House news conference on Friday that the USA had been treated "very, very unfairly" and said "negotiators for Germany" had bested their American counterparts.

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Abe also endorsed a free trade agreement with the European Union, and highlighted the economic and industrial cooperation agreements already signed by the governments of both countries.

He said it was through connectedness that economies would grow, and called for a swift conclusion to the EU-Japan trade deal.

"We want free, open markets".

Since taking office, Trump had pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific free trade pact and has repeatedly pointed the finger at export giants like China and Germany over their massive trade surpluses.

Merkel rejected Trump's suggestion that individual European countries should negotiate free trade deals with the United States, rather than under existing EU-US negotiations.

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