China to pursue more trade with France, EU raises ‘difficult issues’



BEIJING (Reuters) – China told France on Monday it would buy more of its farm produce, hinted at future Airbus purchases and pledged to work on market access, shoring up its trade ties with Europe amid the increasing danger of a tariff war with the United States.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe that Beijing was planning to buy more planes this year and was ready for further talks with France on obtaining Airbus aircraft.

Paris and the European planemaker have been working to salvage a deal since President Emmanuel Macron returned from Beijing empty-handed in January.

Industry sources say a blunder by diplomats and some of Macron’s own comments, revealing details of airplane negotiations with top officials, upset the Chinese.

“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,” Li told a joint news conference. “In spite of this, we are still willing to strengthen cooperation with France’s Airbus.”

China has struck a very different tone with the United States, having warned that Boeing could become a casualty if the world’s two largest economies fail to halt their slide toward a trade war.

Both China and the European Union are locked in their own trade disputes with the United States, and China has been seeking common ground with the EU in opposing what Beijing sees as U.S. protectionism.