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Germany

Trade a key issue in Merkel's visit to Kazakhstan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with President Nursultan Nasarbeyev of Kazakhstan to discuss trade and investment. The visit draws her five-day tour of Asia to a close.

Merkel in Kazakhstan

Merkel has visited Russia and China as part of the trade tour

During Chancellor Angela Merkel's first ever visit to Kazakhstan, as with her other stops on her five-day Asian tour, trade and investment topped the agenda.

Deals worth 2.2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) were agreed between Germany and Kazakhstan, including one line of credit worth $100 million from Deutsche Bank to small and medium-sized Kazakh businesses.

Merkel called the deals "a good starting point" and said German companies were interested in exploring the areas of energy efficiency, telecommunications, construction, manufacturing and agriculture. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev urged German firms to become even more involved in his nation.

A 'historic' visit

However, there's a stumbling block between the two nations: Kazakhstan owes Germany some 300 million euros. Merkel said there needed to be "a solid basis for mutual trust" if their partnership is to work.

The chancellor said they wanted to "look to the future and leave the past behind us" and said a key aspect of this would be for Kazakhstan to rebuild their banks following the financial crisis.

Once the banks are stabilized, Germany can once again issue the export credit guarantees that are important for the development of reciprocal trade.

Both national leaders emphasized the importance of the meeting, with Nazarbayev calling the occasion "historic." While Germany is a key ally for Kazakhstan in Europe, Merkel also called Kazakhstan, which has significant oil and gas reserves, the most important economic partner for Germany in Central Europe.

Chancellor Merkel and Chinese PM Wen Jiabao flanked by soldiers

The chancellor was greeted with full military honors in Beijing

"For us, the relationship has become increasingly more important for the security of crude oil supplies from Kazakhstan," Merkel said. "Kazakhstan now is Germany's fourth largest crude oil supplier."

Merkel wraps up Asian tour

The chancellor's visit to Kazakhstan was the last stop in a five-day tour of Asia which included visits to key trade partners Russia and China. Accompanied by a delegation of 25 key German business leaders, the trip was about cementing economic cooperation.

In China, the chancellor was greeted with full military honors before entering into discussions with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Beijing. The trip oversaw several trade deals between German firms such as Daimler and Siemens with Chinese companies.

The previous stop of the tour, in Russia, a 2.2 billion euro deal was done between Siemens and Russia's RJD railway company. Germany is Russia's main economic partner and the two countries did 47 billion euros worth of trade in 2008.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/AFP)
Editor: Sean Sinico

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