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China tells France an Airbus deal is still alive

Staff Writer |
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing was willing to continue talks over the purchase of Airbus jets after French President Emmanuel Macron failed to clinch a deal earlier this year.

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The French government and the European planemaker have been working to salvage the contract since a visit by Macron to China in January, when he said China would buy 184 Airbus A320 narrow-body jets, an order worth $18 billion at list prices.

Industry sources said Macron returned home empty handed after a diplomatic gaffe and some of his own separate comments upset Chinese officials.

Macron sent his prime minister, Edouard Philippe, to Beijing this weekend partly in a bid to move the negotiations forward.

At a joint news conference, Li said China had long been a large customer for Airbus aircraft, and noted their joint manufacturing facility in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin.

“I explained to Mr Prime minister that in recent years we have bought quite a lot of passenger aircraft, and there needs to be a period to digest this. In spite of this, we are still willing to strengthen cooperation with France’s Airbus,” Li said, adding China planned to buy lots of planes in 2018.

“We are willing to continue discussing the issue of buying Airbus aircraft and in due course to sign agreements to buy Airbus aircraft," Li added.

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