German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the CeBIT technology fair Monday in a meeting intended to give new momentum to a trade accord between Japan and the European Union.
After touring the technology fair in Hanover, Germany, Merkel and Abe emphasized the growing importance of the so-called EPA trade accord between Japan and the EU in the light of protectionist sentiment in countries including the United States.
Abe said that Germany and Japan - united through shared democratic values and an emphasis on the rule of law - had to "fly the flag of free trade" in order to combat protectionism.
"Not only do countries have to become more interconnected in the 21st century, we have to be able to cooperate without barriers," Merkel said.
Merkel and Abe's meeting came three days after the German leader held inconclusive talks in Washington with US President Donald Trump, who has touted an "America First" economic and trade policy.
Talks on a trade deal between Japan and the EU, which began in 2003, are gaining new momentum in light of uncertainties about Trump's trade policies and Britain's decision to leave the bloc.
On Tuesday, Abe will be in Brussels for a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Juncker has said that the EPA trade agreement will be completed by the end of the year.
During their tour of the fair, Merkel and Abe attended a tutorial about satellite image analysis, saw new models of drones and were served sushi by a robot.