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Trade boost

June 28, 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced plans for a major increase in trade with China, as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao concludes his European tour in Berlin. Multibillion euro business deals have been secured.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao with Chancellor Angela Merkel
Human rights concerns in China were mostly off the agendaImage: picture alliance/dpa

As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao wrapped up his European visit in Berlin on Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany intended to boost trade with China to at least 200 billion euros ($283.8 billion) in the next five years.

"We want to encourage [Chinese companies] to invest even more in Germany," Merkel announced at a Berlin business forum attended by Premier Wen. "What's already pretty good can get even better."

Trade between the world's number two economy, China, and Germany, at number four, currently stands at 130 billion euros annually.

The Chinese premier followed Merkel's announcement by asserting China's confidence in the eurozone.

"It's true that right now some European Union countries are encountering economic problems. These are, however, of a temporary nature," he told the business forum.

The European Union is "strong enough to master the current challenges," he added.

Billion-euro business deals

Protesters release balloons in protest of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit
Dozens of people demonstrated in Berlin against China's human rights policiesImage: DW

Wen was in Germany for the third and final leg of his European tour. He arrived in Berlin on Monday evening, having already secured a trade deal worth almost 1.6 billion euros with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

On Tuesday, Wen attended a German cabinet meeting with several of his key ministers during which Chinese and German firms signed deals worth more than 15 billion euros.

Although details of the deals were kept largely under wraps, they were expected to include contracts for cars, chemicals and aeronautics.

Human rights not on agenda

Although there was some speculation about whether Merkel would raise concerns about China's human rights record, Wen made it clear on Tuesday that he would not accept lectures from European partners.

"China respects the political system and the development model chosen by the citizens of the EU," he told a press conference after the trade talks. "In exchange, we expect from the EU respect of our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and the autonomous choices of the Chinese people."

China was meeting with Germany to "boost the growth potential of bilateral trade ... and to once again double our bilateral trade volume in five years," he asserted.

Author: Charlotte Chelsom-Pill, Darren Mara (dpa, AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Michael Lawton