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article imageFrance woos Chinese investors as PM wraps up fruitful trip

By AFP     Jul 2, 2015 in World

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised Chinese investors "the best welcome in all of Europe" as his Beijing counterpart wrapped up a visit in which he signed billions of euros in accords with France.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang inked more than 50 deals on his three-day visit to France which rolled out the red carpet in a bid to boost ties with the Asian giant and breathe life back into its own struggling economy.

Paris used the opportunity to try to lure more Chinese investors and rebalance trade between the two countries. In 2013, Paris ran a 26 billion euro ($29 billion) deficit with China.

"Today I want to send this message to Chinese business leaders: Come and set up in France," Valls told a Franco-Chinese summit in the southern city of Toulouse, promising "the best welcome in all of Europe".

"Chinese investment in France represents four billion euros and no less than 13,000 jobs. It is a lot but we can do much better," said Valls.

Li wrapped up his visit in Toulouse with a visit to the headquarters of European aerospace giant Airbus, after a Chinese company placed an order for 45 A330s with an option for 30 more in a deal worth $18 billion.

- 'Major new step' -

The massive sale is linked to a deal in which Airbus will set up a centre at its base in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin where the aircraft can be customised.

The long-haul A330 will be fitted with more seats in China -- where it will travel shorter distances -- than in Europe as a solution to the country's congested skies and airports.

"This is a major new step in our cooperation," said Valls.

The two countries signed a further 3.5 billion euros in accords on Thursday in addition to billions of euros in credit and financing deals.

Tourism group Pierre and Vacances signed a deal to develop holiday villages in China and the Schneider Electric energy firm sealed a contract estimated at 500 million euros with the China National Building Material Company on the management of energy consumption in its buildings and factories.

France and China inked a deal to work together in the civil nuclear industry and also signed what Paris said was a "historic" deal to work together in emerging economies in Africa and Asia.

Alcatel-Lucent landed two framework agreements to supply Chinese groups operating mainly in Africa with telecommunications equipment valued at 1.3 billion euros.

Li used to opportunity to announce China's targets to reduce carbon emissions ahead of UN climate talks in Paris in December.

In addition, China recognised "Bordeaux" as a legally protected brand in a bid to combat counterfeit wines after a four-year struggle with France.

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