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German Chancellor Angela Merkel stresses importance of free trade ahead of visit to US

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed the importance of free trade and welcomed an agreement between the European Union and Mexico on a new trade pact just days before she heads to Washington for talks with President Donald Trump.

US policy has become more protectionist under Trump, who during his election campaign blamed globalisation for ravaging American manufacturing jobs as companies sought to reduce labour costs by relocating elsewhere. In March he imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium to protect US producers.

Speaking at the opening of the Hanover trade fair in Germany, Merkel and visiting Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto welcomed the agreement in principle that the EU and Mexico reached on a new free trade deal. Merkel is due to address contentious issues including trade when she meets Trump on Friday.

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