German Scholz calls for closer EU trade ties with Southeast Asia – Reuters

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BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the European Union should expand cooperation with Southeast Asian (ASEAN) countries, saying deepening ties was crucial in the face of war in Ukraine, at a meeting of business leaders in Singapore on Monday.

He said he hoped to see rapid progress in EU trade talks with Australia, India and Indonesia and remained open to further deals beyond that.

“Deepening cooperation is crucial as we all feel the geopolitical ground under our feet is shifting,” said Scholz, who visited Vietnam on Sunday and after his stopover in Singapore will travel to the G20 leaders’ summit in Indonesia.

His trip, a week after a visit to China, comes amid attempts by Germany to diversify trade in Asia, which has some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Germany wants to reduce its economic dependence on its main trading partner, China, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and reduced energy supplies to Europe highlighted the risks to depend on a single state.

German Scholz arrives in China to strengthen economic ties

Scholz said reducing risky, one-sided dependencies for certain critical raw materials or technologies would play an important role in Germany’s national security strategy, but added that decoupling was not the answer.

“A world with new or resurrected trade barriers and disintegrating economies will not be a better place,” he said according to a prepared speech text.

Berlin also wants to offer other nations an alternative to Chinese investment, to prevent Beijing from gaining more political clout and showing greater commitment to the Indo-Pacific amid concerns over its territorial ambitions.

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