May 22, 2018 / 6:03 PM / in a month

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 liberalization, European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen addresses the European Parliament during a debate on the US decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium in Strasbourg, France March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

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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