China to buy 50 Airbus planes for $3.5bn

The A320 passenger plane will now be manufactured in the US China and Germany signed trade deals in aviation energy, environment, health and maritime co-operation

China has signed a deal to buy 50 planes worth $3.5bn (£2.2bn) from Europe's Airbus.

The agreement is part of a slew of trade deals signed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of a two-day visit to China.

An agreement on Airbus plane assembly in China was also signed, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Thursday his country would continue to invest in the EU.

Emissions row

This is the first significant deal in China for Airbus, whose parent company is EADS, since a dispute between the country and the European Union over the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Effective from 1 January this year, the ETS charges airlines for the carbon they emit.

China and other countries say the system is not fair, as it charges airlines for the full journey, not just over European airspace.

Following this in March, EADS chief executive Louis Gallois said Airbus was facing "retaliation measures" by China.

According to him, China had blocked firms from buying planes made by Airbus. Beijing did not comment on the allegation.

Merkel visit

Chinese Premier Wen Jiobao said he still had faith in the eurozone, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said strength of commitment to the eurozone would grow in the autumn

Ms Merkel is in China for the second time this year, as she tries to improve relations and drum up business for European companies.

She is being accompanied by several ministers, as well as top German executives.

Bilateral trade between Germany and China totalled about $180bn dollars last year. That is nearly double what it was five years ago.

On Thursday, the two countries signed 10 further agreements, in the sectors of communication, energy, health and maritime co-operation, among others, Xinhua said.

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