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Merkel offers support for Canada-EU free trade deal

(Xinhua)

10:40, August 17, 2012

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C, front) signs the official guestbook before meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada on August 16, 2012. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a boost Thursday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his country's bid to formalize a free trade pact with the European Union (EU) and termed the relationship with Germany as one of "certain friends in an uncertain world." (Xinhua/David Kawai)

OTTAWA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a boost Thursday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his country's bid to formalize a free trade pact with the European Union (EU) and termed the relationship with Germany as one of "certain friends in an uncertain world."

Merkel, in Ottawa for her first visit to Canada since becoming Chancellor in 2005 and also the first such visit by a German Chancellor in a decade, said at a joint news conference with Harper that she favored a "speedy conclusion" to Canadian and European Commission negotiations for the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the 27-nation EU.

Free trade is "one of the best engines of growth," while protectionism is "one of the greatest dangers to growth," Merkel said.

Harper pointed out the trade deal with the EU which would be Canada's second-largest pact since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico would give Canada access to over 500 million consumers, who comprise the world's largest market.

Finalizing the Canada-EU trade agreement in difficult economic times should inspire major developed countries "to move forward on a trade agenda," Harper said.

According to latest statistics by Eurostat, Canada, the second largest country in the world in terms of area, is EU's 11th most important partner worldwide with a bilateral trade volume recorded at a total value of 46.8 billion euros (57.56 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010.

Both leaders also addressed the so-called "elephant in the room " of Canada's unwillingness to contribute to a 450 billion dollars International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail out the euro zone.

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