Strengthening the international order and trade relations

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Federal Chancellor Scholz being welcomed by Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of Vietnam.

In Hanoi, Federal Chancellor Scholz highlighted the special relations between the Germany and Vietnam.

Photo: Federal Government/Schmitz

The two-day G20 Summit began in Bali on Tuesday under the motto of the Indonesian Presidency: “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”. The Federal Chancellor is attending the summit as part of his trip to Southeast Asia, which has already taken him to Vietnam and Singapore. As he stressed on the eve of the summit, Federal Chancellor Scholz expected to engage in serious talks and discussions on the major challenges facing the world, first and foremost the consequences of the war Russia is waging against Ukraine. 

In a total of three working sessions, the G20 heads of state and government will exchange views on the priority issues of global food security, sustainable energy transition, global health architecture and digital transformation.

The talks are also taking place against the backdrop of the Russian war against Ukraine. 

The Federal Chancellor will travel back to Berlin on Wednesday evening.

First stop in Singapore

In Singapore, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck first participated in the 17th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business. In his speech, the Federal Chancellor noted the shared challenges in the areas of climate protection, digitalisation and diversification, declaring his support for free trade as the basis for common prosperity.

Strengthening trade relations with the Indo-Pacific region

The Federal Chancellor praised the free trade agreements with Japan, Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand and Singapore as success stories, highlighting the ongoing negotiations on further agreements with Australia, India and Indonesia.

In view of developments in China, Scholz said there was a need for diversification in trade relations. To this end, he said, it was important to further expand economic contacts throughout the region as whole. 

But he also warned against both protectionism and trade restrictions, stressing that deglobalisation was not an option for any country – especially given the risks of global health crises, climate change and lack of food security.

With regard to the Federal Government’s Indo-Pacific Guidelines, Scholz pledged to improve the political, regulatory and economic environment for businesses in the Indo-Pacific region and support them in improving economic and trade relations – whether through the EU, in the G7 or in cooperation with ASEAN.

The Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business is the leading conference in the region for business leaders, executives and government representatives. This year’s conference focused on two issues that will be crucial in the coming years: diversification and sustainability. The Indo-Pacific region has a central role to play in connection with both of these. 

Habeck, Vice Federal Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, was also in Singapore as co-host of the Asia-Pacific Conference. He stressed that Germany was looking to intensify partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. The goal was to jointly reduce one-sided dependencies through diversification, he said: “We should be aiming to establish a broader base, spread the risks and develop our own strengths so as to become more robust, thereby gaining greater flexibility on the political front, too. This is the clear orientation of our foreign trade policy.”

Cooperation with Singapore

After his talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the latter’s residence, Federal Chancellor Scholz emphasised the two countries’ sound bilateral relations based on a joint commitment to international law and multilateralism. He praised Singapore as a “gateway to the whole of Asia” and a city that exuded “dynamism, innovation and energy”.

In view of the global political and economic challenges, Scholz said: “The watershed moment brought about by the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine has reminded us that we have to reduce dependencies, minimise risks and diversify our political and economic relations. And we’re looking to work with reliable partners to this end – especially here in the Indo-Pacific region.”

In order to extend bilateral relations, the two countries have drawn up a joint declaration that provides concrete impetus for to further deepen cooperation, especially in the important future areas of climate protection, connectivity, digital, research and innovation.

In this connection, Scholz particularly emphasised the area of climate protection: “We talked in detail about the need to end dependence on fossil fuels so as to put a stop to man-made climate change.”

With regard to Singapore’s ambitious climate targets, Scholz said: “There is already one of the largest floating solar power plants in the world here – signs like this give cause for optimism."

We’re also in agreement in terms of our attitude towards the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. “There is absolutely no justification for this violation of international law. Russia must end the war immediately, withdraw its troops and be prepared to engage in honest peace negotiations.”

In view of the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and the risk of new polarisation, partnerships had to be strengthened, too, said Scholz – not least to avoid dependencies and to build reliable and resilient supply chains.

In addition, it was vital to intensify collaboration in the area of security, he said – “with the clear understanding that our engagement is inclusive and our offers of cooperation are directed at all partners in the region”, said the Federal Chancellor. ASEAN is a key actor for the rules-based order within the framework of multilateral cooperation.

In the course of the Federal Chancellor’s visit to the Istana, an orchid ceremony was held to present a species of orchid named after Olaf Scholz, the “Renanthera Olaf Scholz”.

The Federal Chancellor also met for talks with the President of Singapore, Halimah binti Yacob.

First stop Vietnam

On Sunday, the Federal Chancellor first travelled to Vietnam, making the most of talks with the Vietnamese Prime Minister to advocate strengthening of bilateral relations, among other things.

As well as aiming to deepen German-Vietnamese economic relations in general, the meeting focused on specific projects under the Strategic Partnership. In addition to concrete projects such as the Vietnamese-German University, these include joint projects on issues such as combating climate change, the energy transition and the use of renewable energies.

Agreements were also concluded in Vietnam on defence cooperation, the recruitment of skilled workers and the energy dialogue.