China, France sign deals worth $15bn during Macron's visit

They also took united stance in regard to Iran, Paris climate accord

Photo: EPA French President Emmanuel Macron (L) shakes hands with China`s President Xi Jinping after a joint news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.

French President Emmanuel Macron capped his second visit to China, which started in Shanghai on Monday, with a slew of deals worth more than $15bn in total and discussions on trade and the Iranian nuclear issue, with the French leader saying he also raised human rights issues with the Chinese president. Both sides also united on climate after US withdraws from Paris pact, declaring that it was "irreversible".

The deals were struck in the fields of aeronautics, energy and agriculture, including approval for 20 French companies to export poultry, beef and pork to China. They also agreed to expand a protocol for poultry exports reached this year to include duck and geese as well as foie gras, and to work on a protocol allowing France to export pig semen to China, according to a statement from the French president’s office. Among the deals was also an important agreement to protect 200 European and Chinese agricultural products - whose names are tied to their regions - against counterfeiting, from Champagne to Feta cheese and Panjin rice.

Energy deals, on the other hand, included a memorandum of understanding between Beijing Gas Group and French utility Engie to collaborate on a liquefied natural gas terminal and storage in the northern city of Tianjin. An executive with Beijing Gas Group told Reuters that the cooperation with Engie would include the French firm supplying membrane technology, used for gas leak prevention, in the massive gas storage projects that China is embarking on.

Among other deals, France’s Total will set up a joint venture with China’s Shenergy Group to distribute LNG by truck in the Yangtze River Delta. The two countries also agreed to reach an agreement by 31 January on the cost and location of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to be built by Orano, formerly known as Areva. Previous plans to build the plant in Lianyungang in eastern China’s Jiangsu province were canceled after protests.

Separately, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said China would support its firms’ purchases of Airbus aircraft. Xinhua said the two countries agreed to work together to push forward the completion and delivery center program of the European planemaker’s A350 model, as well as step up investment by Airbus in China.

In the meantime, in a document titled the "Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change", the two leaders voiced their determination to improve international cooperation to "ensure a complete and efficient implementation of the Paris accord". The document includes a commitment to restoring almost a third of degraded land as well as eliminating fossil fuel subsidies in the medium term.

On Iran, Macron said they agreed to deepen joint efforts to convince Tehran to return to "fully respect its obligations" under the 2015 nuclear deal.

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