German Chancellor Angela Merkel has wound up a trip to Ottawa by calling for completion of negotiations on a free trade pact between Canada and the European Union. She said it would help reinvigorate the global economy.
Concluding talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Merkel said both countries were "convinced that free trade is one of the best engines of growth" after four years of global economic crisis.
"Once I go back to Germany, I will see to it that these negotiations come to a speedy conclusion," Merkel said.
Canada is already a partner with the US and Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement. A recent study forecast that a similar accord would boost trade between Canada and the EU by as much as 20 percent.
Talks have however stumbled on issues such as intellectual property rights and a proposal to allow municipalities to make trans-Atlantic procurements.
Canada's provinces have expressed worries about losing their ability to prefer local suppliers. Auto workers, farmers and environmentalists have also rallied against the potential deal.
Harper endorses Merkel discipline
Harper praised Merkel's insistence that struggling eurozone nations adopt more fiscal discipline, saying he had "great confidence in the chancellor's leadership."
Harper held firm on Canada's decision not to contribute via the International Monetary Fund to bailout efforts for struggling eurozone nations such as Greece, Italy and Spain.
"Europe has taken a number of very important steps and we know that there are additional things that need to be done," Harper said.
Earlier this week, Canadian Finance Minster Jim Flaherty had said "not enough has been done" by wealthier eurozone nations to fix Europe's woes. "They need to do more," he said.
Merkel backs ECB's Draghi
Merkel told a news conference with Harper in Ottawa that "it is a question of taking the steps that weren't taken when the currency union was created, namely a political union."
She also backed European Central Bank President Mario Draghi of Italy, saying his recent claim that the ECB was ready to defend the euro was "completely in line" with the approach taken by European leaders.
On her way home, Merkel was due on Thursday to visit Canada's Atlantic coastal city of Halifax and the oceanographic research unit at Dalhousie University, which has launched new research on climate change in the Arctic.
ipj/ccp (AFP, dpa)