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Mon, Dec 06, 2004 - Page 12 News List

China, Germany plan 17 trade pacts

BIG BUSINESS The focus of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's visit to China, starting today, will be on the already extensive economic ties between the countries


China and Germany plan to sign 17 trade agreements, including lucrative orders for aircraft and railway equipment, during Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's visit to China from today.

The focus of Schroeder's visit will be on economic ties, promoting the aim of doubling bilateral trade by 2010, the German ambassador to China said.

One of the largest deals scheduled to be signed today, following Schroeder's talks with Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), is an agreement for China to buy 23 Airbus aircraft worth some 1 billion euros (US$1.26 billion).

Leaders of several major German businesses will travel with Schroeder in China, with Siemens planning to sign a contract for 180 railway locomotives worth 360 million euro (US$453 million) and a power line for 210 million euro (US$264 million).

Executives of the Transrapid consortium, led by Siemens and Thyssen-Krupp, expect the Chinese government to give the green light this month for an extension to the world's first commercial magnetic levitation (maglev) line. Transrapid provided technology for the existing 30km, US$1 billion link to Shanghai's main airport, and the extension would complete a 180km line from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

Reform of the UN Security Council will be a major topic for talks between Schroeder and Wen. China has already voiced support for Germany having a permanent seat on the Security Council.

China will renew its call for the lifting of the EU arms embargo, which was imposed after the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Diplomats said the EU is likely to send a "positive signal" at the EU-China summit in The Hague on Wednesday. The EU is expected to strengthen its code of conduct on arms exports, a move that some argue would make the arms embargo on China redundant.

But one European diplomat said it was "unrealistic" to expect the EU to finalize the lifting of the embargo this month. Several EU member states and the US still oppose the lifting of the embargo.

Schroeder will make his sixth trip to China since 1998, accompanied by Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe, Interior Minister Otto Schily and more than 40 German business executives.

During his three-day visit, Schroeder will open a Volkswagen joint-venture plant in China's northeastern city of Changchun which is set to produce 33,000 cars annually. He will also attend a groundbreaking ceremony in Beijing for a DaimlerChrysler plant which is planned to produce 18,000 cars per year.

China has replaced Japan as Germany's biggest Asian trading partner. Bilateral trade value between China and Germany jumped to more than US$43 billion in the first 10 months of this year, up some 30 percent.

The rapid growth of German exports to China has also trans-formed Germany into Beijing's biggest trading partner in Europe.

German exports to China were up 25 percent to 18.2 billion euros (US$22.9 billion) last year, while imports from China rose 17 percent to 25 billion euros (US$31.46 billion).

Germany is the biggest European foreign investor in China with a total direct investment valued at US$9.4 billion.

About 1,800 German businesses have set up shop in China and 23 of the 30 biggest companies listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange are represented there.

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