Ambassador calls for a balanced relationship

Adela Talbot // Western News

Werner Wnendt, German ambassador to Canada and Consul-General, visited campus Monday as part of Germany Day at Western. In advance of a public lecture, Wnendt toured the Advanced Manufacturing Park and Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research with Amit Chakma, Western president; John Capone, vice-president (research); Dan Sinai, associate vice-president (research); and Peter White, executive director for Government Relations & Strategic Partnerships. Following the tour, the ambassador spoke about Canadian-German relations to a packed room at the Chu International Centre on campus.

While London’s infamous winter weather tried to hinder international relations, Germany Day celebrations eventually landed Monday. Sponsored by Western International, the event was an opportunity for the university to strengthen the bonds between the university and its partner institutions in Germany.

Werner Wnendt, German ambassador to Canada and Consul-General, visited campus as part of the event. Wnendt toured the Advanced Manufacturing Park and Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research with Amit Chakma, Western president, and other university dignitaries. Following the tour, the ambassador delivered a public lecture about Canadian-German relations to a packed room at the Chu International Centre.

Central to his discussion was the pending Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU). Though the agreement has yet to come into effect, CETA will eliminate the majority of trade tariffs between Canada and the member states of the EU.

The federal government has said the economic relationship between Canada and the EU is a high priority. It lists CETA as, by far, Canada’s most ambitious trade initiative to date, exceeding the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement.

Wnendt said both Canada and Germany, as the EU’s largest individual economy, would benefit from CETA. While trade and investment do exist between the two countries, it is largely one-sided, with Canada importing $21.6 billion in goods from Germany in 2013, while only exporting $4.9 billion.

While Wnendt touched on economic issues in his discussion, he said there is much more that binds our nations.

“It’s not about trade and investment only, but it’s also the common values we share and ideals we have that make our relationship important,” Wnendt said.

One important link, Wndendt said, is scientific cooperation. Canada and Germany have established a significant research relationship based on mutual contribution in the form of an actual exchange of ideas between our universities and research institutes.

“Outside of Europe, there is hardly any partner in the world where these conditions are equally ideal,” he said.

Wnendt stressed the necessity for the young people, the students, professionals and those interested in experiencing different cultures to travel from Canada to Germany.

He noted the importance of the Youth Mobility Agreement between the two nations. The agreement provides the opportunity for up to 5,000 people between the age of 18-35, from either country, to further their education, to work, or to experience the culture and society of the other.

“Though all the visas that go with this program are given to 5,000 German students and young people, we have a problem to mobilize enough Canadian students,” Wnendt said. “This is an investment in the future of every individual person and it’s an investment in German-Canadian relations.”