Merkel addresses the EU-Africa Summit with an eye on the issue of migrants



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BERLIN –

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will focus on expanding trade ties and trying to regulate migration with Africa during an EU-Africa summit in Abidjan this week, while being pressured at home to further advance fast on both fronts.

Merkel is taking a break from her momentum of more than a month to form a new government to attend the summit, interested in demonstrating Germany's continued ability to act on the foreign policy front, and to underline its commitment with Africa. 19659003] He will join French President Emmanuel Macron at the summit to focus on education, youth investment and economic development to prevent refugees and economic migrants from attempting the treacherous journey through the Mediterranean.

Libya is now the main starting point for mostly African immigrants trying to cross into Europe. Smugglers usually pack them into flimsy inflatable rafts that often break down or sink.

The chancellor said at a conservative event on Saturday that he would push to expand trade relations and investment, while urging African leaders in bilateral talks to accept the return of their citizens who had no right to remain in Europe.

The trip is important for the German leader amid widespread criticism of his 2015 decision to allow the entry of more than one million immigrants, mostly from the Middle East and Afghanistan.

She is under pressure at home to avoid another immigration crisis after losing support for the far right in the September 24 elections. It is likely that Germany will adopt an immigration law of some kind after the electoral defeats for the main parties.

Experts say the far-right and anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany could see more gains in any upcoming new election If Merkel fails to convince the Social Democrats to renew the "grand coalition" that governed the past four years.

A year after Merkel made Africa the cornerstone of the German presidency of the G20 industrialized nations, illegal migration from Africa remains a concern, with human rights groups criticizing the EU's failure to address the conditions in the migrant camps in Libya and other places.

Merkel has also received criticism from German companies, which say they are at risk of losing in the face of growing interest in the region by their rivals. France, China, the United States, Great Britain, India and Turkey.

Germany's trade balance with African countries expanded 11.2 percent to 13.8 percent in the first half of 2017 after the decline slightly in 2016.

"German industry is still underrepresented in these markets of the future "said Christoph Kannengiesser, director of the German-African Business Association. "Compared with other international firms, German companies are significantly behind, due to insufficient government support."

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