HAMBURG - The European Union (EU), China and Germany should work together to maintain an open global economy, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Monday.

The world is in an era of uncertainty “more profound than any uncertainty for decades,” said Schroeder in an opening speech at the Hamburg Summit, calling on China and Germany to strengthen political and economic cooperation.

The biennial Hamburg Summit, which was initiated by the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce in 2004, serves as an important platform for discussing China-EU economic cooperation. Schroeder is the forum’s honorary chairman.

“The ‘America First’ stance will bring about changes for all of us -- in trade policies, as well as in foreign and security policies,” Schroeder told the two-day event.

Schroeder stressed that the rules-based international order that has been built up since World War II is under strain.

“We have witnessed attacks on international trade and the system that supports it, which is based on the free flow of goods and capital,” Schroeder said.

Schroeder said China and Germany should stay committed to the multilateral trading system.

“Because we have learned that economic exchange between equal partners and on the basis of fair agreements is in the interest of both countries,” Schroeder said.

Speaking of China’s efforts in promoting globalization and open trade, Schroeder said the opportunities created by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since it was launched in 2013 will bring people and businesses in Asia and Europe closer together.

“This initiative has been received with great interest all over the world -- including Germany and Europe. It is a strong signal that China wants closer, faster, better connections with its main trading partners,” Schroeder said.

The Hamburg Summit this year will feature panel meetings, keynote speeches and discussions focusing on topics such as the global geopolitical landscape, the world economic order, the Belt and Road, challenges of digitization and artificial intelligence as well as sustainable growth.