Business puts high hopes on Merkel trip to Latin America

German companies have high expectations for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first state visit to Latin America, an increasingly vital trading partner, a regional expert told German press agency DPA on Tuesday.

Business puts high hopes on Merkel trip to Latin America
Photo: DPA

Companies hope Merkel will discuss loosening trade restrictions between the European Union and Latin America, Bodo Liesenfeld, chairman of the Business Association for Latin America, told DPA.

Steady economic growth in Latin America since 2003 has helped focus German business interest in the region, Liesenfeld said.

Growing leftist tendencies among the continent’s governments do not necessarily need to depress European business dealings with South America, Liesenfeld said.

“We need to differentiate between trade and investment: trade activities mostly are not influenced by political relationships,” Liesenfeld said. “Imports of consumer goods to Venezuela have increased a great deal in the last two years, for example.”

Merkel departs on Tuesday on her first visit as chancellor to Latin America. She will arrive in Brazil on Wednesday and will attend an EU-Latin America summit in Peru.

On May 20, the German leader is to visit Columbia and Mexico.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, known for his incendiary commentary on state leaders, called Merkel a political descendent of Adolf Hitler and fascism on Sunday.

Chavez said he might confront Merkel at the Latin America summit.

“Maybe I’ll say something to her and she’ll get mad and say ‘why don’t you shut up?'” he said, in a reference to a row with Spanish King Juan Carlos last November in Santiago de Chile.


Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.