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China signs multibillion-dollar deal with Airbus in another big blow to Boeing

China signs multibillion-dollar deal with Airbus in another big blow to Boeing
China will buy a total of 300 passenger jets from European aircraft maker Airbus as its US rival Boeing struggles in the aftermath of two deadly crashes involving its 737 MAX.

The deal was signed during a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to France. Beijing’s order includes 290 aircraft from the A320 Family and 10 more from the A350 XWB line, Airbus said in a statement on Monday. The agreement reflects “strong demand” in all sections of the Chinese aviation market, according to the company.

Airbus did not reveal the total value of the deal. However, French officials told Reuters that it could be worth €30 billion (around $34 billion), roughly matching Airbus’ list prices.

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“The conclusion of a big [aviation] contract... is an important step forward and an excellent signal in the current context,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint address with Xi Jinping.

Apart from the order for 300 jets, the two sides signed the total of 15 business contracts in sectors ranging from energy to shipping. France’s industrial equipment supplier Fives and the China National Building Materials Group inked a €1 billion ($1.13 billion) deal on cooperation in energy savings in developing countries.

Another €1.2 billion ($1.36 billion) agreement to build 10 container ships was signed between the Marseille-based shipping line CMA CGM and China State Shipbuilding Corporation. Beijing also agreed to lift an embargo on French poultry, which was imposed following bird flu outbreaks in France.

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The massive contract with the European aviation giant comes after Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft were grounded following two fatal crashes in recent months. China was the first to suspend the aircraft operation. Previously, Beijing was set to purchase up to 300 Boeing jets, but the US-China trade war is believed to have put that deal on hold.

Xi Jinping came to France after his three-day visit to Rome, during which the two sides signed the memorandum of understanding on Italy’s joining of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The deal was sealed despite other EU countries, including France and Germany, warning Rome against the move. French President Emmanuel Macron called on his European allies to stick to a more consolidated approach toward China.

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