French President Francois Hollande and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping

China and France sign multi-billion industrial deal

Presidents of France and China have signed a series of industrial cooperation contracts including a multi-billion aircraft deal for Airbus.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Francois Hollande have concluded lengthy negotiations about the deal during a Chinese state visit to Paris on Wednesday.

"Eighteen billion Euros worth of contracts. That means jobs, growth, and above all the prospect of more to come in the years ahead," Hollande said.

The announcement has come following the defeat of Holland’s party in last weekend’s municipal elections. His popularity has been plummeting as he failed to tackle record unemployment and facilitate France’s economic recovery.

During the Wednesday signing ceremony at the president's residence, the Elysee Palace, Chinese car manufacturer Dongfeng and PSA Peugeot Citroen , signed a deal in which the Chinese car maker will buy a 14 per cent stake as part of a recapitalisation deal for the struggling French carmaker.

Peugeot and Dongfeng plan to extend an existing joint venture and Chinese production to enter new Southeast Asian markets and to jointly develop new vehicles and technologies.

During the same ceremony, China signed a new 10-year agreement allowing Airbus to extend a deal to assemble A320 planes in Tianjin to 2025 and committed to buy 70 new aircraft including 27 Airbus A330s which had been previously ordered but frozen because of a trade dispute - all worth $10.2bn (£6.15) at list prices. China will also co-produce French EC-175 helicopters with Airbus and co-operate on turbo-prop engines with France's Safran .

Aerospace currently accounts for 29 per cent of French exports to China.

The other highlight of the deal signing was a set of nuclear energy and liquefied natural gas (LNG) agreements involving French utility EDF, nuclear engineering firm Areva, China General Nuclear (CGN), Total and CNOOC - all of which are already working on partnerships in China.

France trails far behind neighbouring Germany - also on Xi's European itinerary - on the trade front with China, accounting for just 1.2 per cent of Chinese imports compared with 4.8 per cent in Germany's case.

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