OTTAWA – Canada’s prime minister and Germany’s chancellor say they’re not playing tit-for-tat when it comes to finding solutions to right a wobbly global economy.
Both Stephen Harper and Angela Merkel say a free trade deal with the European Union isn’t dependent on Canada cutting a cheque to support a bailout for the International Monetary Fund.
Canada’s refusal to contribute to the fund has drawn the ire of some European leaders, but Merkel insisted — with the prime minister at her side — that it would be wrong to link the trade deal with the issues in the eurozone.
“The question is, how can we create more growth for the euro area?” she told a news conference Thursday following a meeting with Harper on Parliament Hill.
“Our experience is whenever we had trade agreements with other countries, that has given a boost to growth, so we would actually be doing ourselves a very great disservice if we were thinking along those lines.”
Canada estimates a pact with the 27-country trading bloc could boost the economy by $12 billion annually.
Harper called the would-be trade deal an “ambitious agreement” that would “also provide a signal to the global economy that major developed countries are able to move forward on the trade agenda.”
For their part, the Europeans would consider the deal the broadest they’ve ever signed, said Merkel.
“There are number of outstanding issues out there, but once I go back to Germany I will see to it that these negotiations come to a speedy conclusion,” she said.
“At a time when there is lack of growth in the world, we — Canada and Germany — are convinced that free trade is one of the best engines of growth that we can have.”
Merkel, who will wrap up her first official visit to Canada later Thursday with a stop in Halifax, said the two countries enjoy both a strong political and personal relationship.
Harper also clearly feels the same. He repeatedly praised Merkel for her political and economic leadership.
“Canada and Germany are certain friends in a very uncertain world,” he said.