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China, Germany in auto, aircraft deals as Merkel visits

BEIJING -- China and Germany signed a series of trade and investment deals on Monday during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, including agreements on two new Volkswagen factories and the sale of 123 Airbus helicopters.

The two countries are both exporting giants — with Germany the EU's biggest economy and China the world's second-largest — and Merkel was looking to strengthen their economic relationship on her three-day visit, her seventh since coming into power in 2005.

She was accompanied by executives from Siemens, Airbus, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank among other companies, according to German media.

Merkel and Premier Li Keqiang oversaw the signing of a series of agreements on Monday.

According to a statement by Volkswagen, the German carmaker will build two new vehicle plants in the northern port city of Tianjin and Qingdao in the east as it invests two billion euros (US$2.7 billion) along with Chinese auto manufacturer FAW.

The new plants' production capacity will be finalized “based on market demand and relevant industrial policies,” the company said in an email sent to AFP.

Merkel toured a Volkswagen factory in the southwestern city of Chengdu on Sunday.

China has become Volkswagen's largest and most important market, the company said, adding the group sold more than 1.5 million vehicles in the country in the first five months of this year, including sales by its joint ventures FAW Volkswagen and Shanghai-Volkswagen — up 17.7 percent year-by-year.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, gestures as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, second left, looks on as they talk to Chinese and German high school students on an education and language exchange program during a visit to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, Monday, July 7. (AP)

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