German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pose for a photo with officials as they attend a presentation on autonomous driving. Photo: AFP

After relations between the US and China took a dramatic turn for the worse on Friday with the start of a tariff battle, Germany has reaffirmed its close economic ties with the Middle Kingdom.

While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was visiting Berlin, a host of deals were signed, including one that could see a major expansion of German chemicals giant BASF’s operations in China with a new plant.

The new chemical production complex would ultimately be BASF’s third largest in the world, according to a press release from the firm, and would integrate different stages of the production chain at one location.

The total investment is projected to be up to US$10 million by 2030.

Guangdong province was chosen as the location for the project, as it is home to customers from key industries, including transportation and consumer goods.

In total, Germany and China signed on to more than US$20 billion worth of deals during Li’s trip.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood firmly with Li in opposition to the Trump administration’s unilateral protectionist measures.

“Free trade plays a strong leading role for both sides and for the world economy,” Li said during a press briefing with Merkel.

“It really is a multilateral interdependent system that at its best most likely is really a plurilateral win-win situation when we stick to the rules,” the German chancellor said, echoing her Chinese guest’s sentiment.

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