By Tom Körkemeier
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Germany called on the European Union on Friday to speed deals to open trade with a dozen or more countries, mainly in Asia, and to boost support for free trade around the world in response to scepticism about it from new U.S. President Donald Trump.
In a paper presented to EU finance ministers at a meeting in Brussels and seen by Reuters, the bloc's leading economic power repeated its view that Trump, along with Britain leaving the EU, posed risks for the world economy. The Union must bolster common policies such as in defense, diplomacy and the economy, it said.
It should also "give a timely push against protectionism and for free trading relationships and international cooperation", the paper continued, referring indirectly to Trump's scepticism on trade agreements.
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In his first week in office, he signed an order pulling the United States out of the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asian states.
Listing 12 countries, mainly in Asia, that are at varying stages of talks with Brussels, where the EU executive runs trade policy, the German paper said: "The Commission should seize the initiative now to make decisive progress in these negotiations."
It noted potential deals with: Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Australia and New Zealand. It also noted that talks dating back some 20 years with the six Arab countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council had lately shown little progress.
(Writing by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Ralph Boulton)