China announced Thursday during a state visit by French President François Hollande that it had signed a letter of intent for the purchase of 60 Airbus planes from France. Hollande’s visit is meant to boost economic ties between the two countries.
China announced Thursday that it had signed a letter of intent with France for the purchase of 60 Airbus planes - a transaction worth an estimated $7.7 billion.
The letter was signed during a state visit by French President François Hollande, who is visiting Beijing in a bid to boost economic ties with China.
Hollande, who is the first Western leader to be received in the Chinese capital by new President Xi Jinping, is accompanied by a plane-load of businessmen hoping to increase their share of the fruits of China's economic growth.
France accounts for just 1.3 percent of China's foreign trade compared with around five percent for Germany, and a trade deficit with China of 26 billion euros ($34 billion) last year is seen in Paris as unsustainable.
But reversing this will not be easy for a country that lacks Germany's strength in the production of capital goods or export-driven business culture.
Aides to Hollande believe the Chinese yuan is seriously undervalued and expect the issue to be raised during his two-day visit, albeit without much hope of significant progress.
In addition to the aircraft deal, France was hoping to sign deals in another area of traditional partnership with China: the nuclear energy sector.
Hopes are high that French nuclear giant Areva and the Chinese energy group CNNC will sign letters of intent on the construction of a nuclear waste treatment facility.
“The two countries are looking at a joint-venture to mine uranium in Niger,” added FRANCE 24’s Henry Morton in Beijing.
Carmaker Renault hopes to progress negotiations on a proposed factory at Wuhan that would produce 150,000 vehicles per year.
France is also pushing for greater access to the Chinese market for its charcuterie, or cooked pork meat, producers.
Hollande touched down down in Beijing around 9:50 am (0150 GMT) Thursday.
The French president is expected to have three meetings with Xi, including a state banquet on Thursday and a more intimate lunch on Friday along with their respective partners, Valerie Trierweiler and Peng Liyuan.
For Hollande, beset by economic woes and the aftermath of a corruption scandal that forced his budget minister to resign, the trip is a break from domestic troubles.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-04-25