OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel next month.

It will be Merkel's first official bilateral visit to Canada, though she has been here before for the G8 and G20 summits.

Harper called Germany an important friend and valued ally to Canada.

"As Canada and the European Union work to conclude free trade negotiations, I look forward to a wide-ranging discussion with Chancellor Merkel on the challenges facing the global economy,” he said in a statement.

The two leaders found themselves at odds earlier this summer after Canada refused to contribute to a global bailout package through the International Monetary Fund.

But they also share the opinion that austerity — not more government spending — is key to helping the world economy get back on track.

According to statistics provided by the government, there are an estimated 450 German companies in Canada, employing about 60,000 Canadians.

In June, a German company broke ground on the newest potash mine in Saskatchewan in nearly 40 years.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast said investment between the two countries has been increasing.

"We'd like to see that grow," he said.

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