May 22, 2018 / 5:44 PM / 3 months ago

Merkel visit a chance to press China to open up - EU's Katainen

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s trip to China this week is a good opportunity to press the Chinese to deliver on promises of trade liberalisation, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Merkel faces a delicate diplomatic balancing act on Thursday and Friday during a visit clouded by trade threats from U.S. President Donald Trump and his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

“(Beijing authorities) have been talking very much about freer trade and more open trade but very little has happened in practise up until now,” Katainen told Reuters in an interview.

“At this particular moment, Chancellor Merkel’s visit is very important because it can clarify the situation.”

Germany and China, two exporting nations that run large trade surpluses with the United States, have found themselves in Trump’s firing line and are scrambling to preserve the rules-based multilateral order on which their prosperity rests.

Katainen said “transatlanticism is so deeply rooted that it goes beyond political cycles”, but he added:

“At the moment, the political situation, because of President Trump’s unilateralism, is different and very difficult. China has indicated that they are very strongly supporting multilateralism, and this unites us.”

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by John Stonestreet

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