Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Merkel, Li defend Iran deal, free trade

SHARED GOAL:Merkel praised China’s easing of auto import and investment barriers, while the nations agreed to offer mutual access to their autonomous vehicle markets


German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang look at each other during a news conference in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: EPA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) yesterday defended the Iran nuclear deal, with Li hinting that terminating the pact would complicate negotiations with North Korea.

Merkel and Li showed a united front on Iran and free trade — two issues that have seen high-profile interventions by US President Donald Trump — during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Ending the agreement with Tehran “will not just impact Iran, but also have a negative impact on [the ability] to solve other hot international issues through peaceful negotiations,” Li said.

He did not mention North Korea by name, but analysts have said that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal dented Washington’s negotiating credibility ahead of his scheduled meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month.

Merkel also raised concern about the economic effects on Europe of Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran agreement.

Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Tehran could hit European firms that have done business with Iran since the 2015 accord was signed.

If European companies pull out or shrink operations in Iran fearing US sanctions, it would “create an opportunity for businesses in other countries to step in and play a greater role,” Merkel said.

Germany and China were among the five nations that negotiated the Iran deal and have called for it to continue, despite the US pullout

Meanwhile, Li rejected the idea that the Iran crisis paved the way for the internationalization of the Chinese currency, amid speculation that demand for yuan-denominated oil futures would increase.

“The internationalization of the yuan is a long-term process that is closely linked to the development of the Chinese economy,” Li said.

On trade, Merkel welcomed China’s moves to reduce vehicle import tariffs and allow foreign carmakers to own a majority stake in joint ventures with Chinese partners.

She drove home Berlin’s demand for Beijing to ease barriers on foreign investment, saying the two nations would sign a memorandum of understanding to offer mutual access to each others’ markets for autonomous vehicles.

“China and Germany are on the path of promoting multilateralism and bolstering free trade,” said Merkel, who was accompanied by an industry delegation of 18 German executives.

Li hinted that a China-EU investment agreement, which has been in the works for years, might be signed during a bilateral meeting in July in Beijing.

Merkel was to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) later yesterday and was scheduled to travel to Shenzhen today.

Additional reporting by AP

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