Asia-Europe summit: Merkel calls for “fair” world trade

Asia-Europe Summit
Merkel calls for “fair” world trade

Two thirds of the world’s economic output is generated by the countries of the Asia-Europe summit. For an economic recovery in the Corona crisis, fairness in the market must apply despite all the differences, said the outgoing Chancellor Merkel.

At the Asia-Europe Summit (Asem), the outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly advocated free trade in the world. In the crisis caused by the pandemic, the contribution of “open and fair world trade” is crucial for global economic recovery, said Merkel, according to government statements at the start of the two-day virtual meeting chaired by Cambodia. The economic integration of Europe and Asia and the cooperation are “foundations of prosperity”.

The Asem partners advise on how to proceed in the Corona crisis.

(Photo: AP)

In view of the change in the global political situation since Asem was founded 25 years ago, it is important “to set new impulses,” said the Chancellor. Many global questions can only be solved together. Multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) need to be strengthened again. “Rule-based action” guarantees fairness and predictability and enables closer cooperation despite all the differences in the diverse group.

The Asem partners include 51 countries as well as the heads of the European Union and the Southeast Asian Association Asean. In addition to the 27 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and Great Britain are also represented. Countries such as Russia and India, the Asian economic giants China, Japan and South Korea as well as Australia and New Zealand also take part. Asem celebrates its 25th anniversary at the meeting.

Asem partners account for 55 percent of world trade

The deliberations focus on the pandemic and the revitalization of the economy. After the UN General Assembly, it is the largest international meeting of state leaders. The motto is “Strengthening multilateralism for common growth”. EU Council President Charles Michel said: “Multilateral cooperation and especially strong relations between Europe and Asia are crucial for our global recovery.” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out the strong trade ties and close ties. “We can achieve so much when we work together.”

The Asem partners represent 55 percent of world trade, 60 percent of the world’s population and 65 percent of global economic output. The informal meeting takes place every two years at the level of the heads of state and government, but had already been postponed twice due to the pandemic.

However, the Myanmar military government does not participate. The Japanese news agency Kyodo reported from Asean circles that the junta had been asked to send only “non-political representatives”. The association had already excluded the head of the military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing, from previous meetings because of his harsh behavior after the coup in Myanmar. Now there will only be a “technical team” for observation in the country.

Speakers pointed to the informal and flexible nature of the Asem dialogue, which is more necessary than ever before in the Corona crisis. The existing multilateral system “is broken or at best works badly,” said expert Lizza Bomassi from the Carnegie think tank in an analysis. “In a world where zero-sum mentality and power politics between global heavyweights influence advances in everything from climate change to technology, countries between the fronts are increasingly frustrated with their perceived lack of agency,” wrote Bomassi. In the informal format, apart from rigid procedures, as in other forums, there is an opportunity to initiate and develop suggestions and recommendations.

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