BERLIN, Sept 19 (Reuters) – A leading German business group on Tuesday welcomed Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s move to invite officials from Central Asian countries for talks next week, in a bid to deepen economic ties as relations with Russia tumbled since the war in Ukraine.
German exports to Russia have sunk nearly 40% in the first seven months of 2023 while Russia has dropped to being Germany’s 36th most important trading partner from 14th place within a year.
At the same time, trade relations with eastern partner countries were undergoing a “profound reorganisation”, the German Eastern Business Association said in a statement, welcoming Scholz’s move.
“The fact that German exports to Central Asia and the South Caucasus are recording strong growth is good news,” said the association’s head, Cathrina Claas-Muehlhaeuser.
“These countries are gaining new importance as alternative business locations and trading partners.”
Claas-Muehlhaeuser called for a greater European Union commitment to Central Asia and a constructive attitude to dealing with Russian sanctions evasion via countries in the region.
“We know from our discussions that there is a great will to prevent sanctions being circumvented,” she said in a statement. “We do not believe that hasty condemnations or even blanket sanctions against third countries are effective.”
Reporting by Andreas Rinke, Writing by Rachel More and Matthias Williams
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