The European Union must expand its cooperation with the countries of Southeast Asia (ASEAN). German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said this, adding that deepening ties is crucial in the face of the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Speaking at a meeting of business leaders in Singapore, he said he hoped to see rapid progress in EU trade talks with Australia, India and Indonesia and remained open to new agreements beyond that.
Deepening cooperation is critical because we all feel the geopolitical ground under our feet is changing, Scholz said.
His trip, a week after a visit to China, stems from Germany's efforts to diversify trade in Asia, one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Germany wants to reduce its economic dependence on its main trading partner, China.
According to Scholz, reducing risky unilateral dependence on certain raw materials or critical technologies will play an important role in Germany's national security strategy.
Berlin also wants to offer other countries an alternative to Chinese investments to prevent Beijing from gaining more political influence and demonstrating greater involvement in the Indo-Pacific region amid fears about its territorial ambitions.