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Turnbull seeks to build stronger trade ties with Germany

Turnbull seeks to build stronger trade ties with Germany article image

Australia is pushing to develop stronger trade ties with Germany – Europe's strongest economy.

This follows the recent meeting between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Both leaders have endorsed changes to bolster economic, defence and cultural ties between the two nations.

“Australia and Germany have always had good relations,” Mr Turnbull said after the two-hour meeting. But we have not paid enough attention to that relationship.

“I think we can say that we are beginning today a new era in Australian-German relations.”

Both countries have adopted an advisory panel report, which will guide a strategic relationship between governments and greater cooperation in energy, resources, education, technology – and perhaps even winemaking.

The two nations set up the Australian German Advisory Group last year to explore ways to strengthen bonds.

Mr Turnbull's wife, Lucy, was a member of the group that comprised more than a dozen prominent individuals from both countries.

German-speaking Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann was also a key member.

“Germany is the fourth biggest economy in the world. It's the biggest economy in Europe. And Europe as a bloc is still the biggest economy in the world, said Mr Cormann. “And certainly Australia would like to do more business with Germany.” 

Gas exports a potential bonanza

Two-way trade between the two nations currently exceeds $17 billion a year.

Under the new deal, Australia will create a new defence and foreign affairs compact with Germany.

The advisory group’s report singles out gas exports as an area for substantial growth, given Germany’s need for ­energy security.

The Australian government sees gas exports as a potential bonanza, given Germany’s reliance on Russia for much of its domestic gas.

The advisory group recommends the two countries set up a working group on energy and resources, create a strategic relationship on energy security and work together in global meetings on the energy trade.

German executives are expected to head to Perth next year to consider the potential for Australian exports. 

Government sources say this could pave the way for separate negotiations on a free-trade agreement between Australia and the EU.

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