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After pomp and ceremony, French and Chinese leaders got down to business of nailing deals

media Chinese Preisdent Xi Jinping is welcomed by French President François Hollande at the Elysee Palace, Wednesday 26 March. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The signing of fifty contracts representing fifty years of diplomatic relations got underway on Wednesday, with lucrative deals clinched in sectors like aeronautics and the car industry. The deals are estimated to be worth 18 billion euros and pave the way for future job creation in France, whacked by high unemployment.


"The 50 agreements that were signed today represent a value of 18 billion euros-- that is jobs, growth and, most of all, significant prospects for the coming years," François Hollande said Wednesday during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

France's leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus, raked in much of those gains, signing a 20-year deal with China's Avicopter, to produce 1,000 civilian helicopters. Moreover, it received an order to produce 70 new passenger planes worth 10 billion euros.

France's troubled car maker PSA Peugeot also benefitted, finalising a deal with China‘s state-owned Dongfeng Motor, allowing it to own14-per-cent of its capital, in return for an 800 million euro bail-out.

Peugeot hopes that the Dongfeng's capital injection will give it priority access to the Chinese market, and enable it to triple production by 2020.

François Hollande has made trade rebalancing with China a priority of Jinping's viist. "Our ambition is not just to multiply trade but also to double investment...we have an obligation to rebalance our external trade with China," Hollande said.

He was speaking after receiving Jinping at the Invalides war museum, where the Chinese President was treated to full ceremonial honours as he arrived at the Elysee palace. A private dinner and concert will be given in his honour at Versailles castle on Thursday.






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