Both countries set target of doubling annual trade by 2015
BERLIN - China and Germany signed deals worth more than $15 billion on Tuesday as the leaders of the world's top two exporters set a target of doubling their annual trade by 2015.
Premier Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the signing ceremony in Berlin.
One of the highlights of the ceremony was China's purchase of 62 A320 aircraft from Airbus SAS.
Other contracts, among the 14 deals signed, included an electric car project between German auto giant Volkswagen and its Chinese partner FAW and a factory in Foshan.
Volkswagen also signed a deal with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, while Daimler and the Beijing Benz Automotive Company inked an agreement on investment in new products, engines and a research and development center.
A range of government-to-government cooperation projects covering energy, finance and the environment were also among the deals signed.
"We have signed contracts worth more than $15 billion just now," Wen said at a news conference with Merkel after the signing ceremony.
Merkel said that Germany and China want to double their annual trade to 200 billion euros ($284 billion) by 2015.
"We both take the view that what is good can become better," Merkel said.
She added that China and Germany are "ideal partners" to develop electric cars, for example, and said both sides want to increase investment.
China is prepared to buy more high-quality German goods, Wen said, but he also called for Berlin to quickly grant it formal recognition as a full market economy to help remove trade obstacles.
"We are not forcing anyone into technology transfer," he said and urged Germany to seek a loosening of EU restrictions on technology exports.
German and Chinese observers recognize the potential for cooperation.
Monika Hohlmeier, a German member of the European Parliament, highlighted that the environment, renewable energy and finance are just some of the areas where trade relations could be strengthened.
Germany is Europe's biggest technology exporter to China. By April, contracts worth $52.2 billion, covering a total of 15,448 transfers to China, had been signed. The contracts involved the transportation, telecom and chemical sectors.
Ren Dingqiu, a researcher at Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, said Germany's investment in China can help boost the competitiveness of the domestic manufacturing industry.
"So China should further improve its investment environment and better protect intellectual property rights," Ren said.
China-Germany trade reached $142 billion last year, about one third of the total trade volume between China and the EU. Germany is China's largest trading partner in Europe.
Though China has a trade surplus with Europe, it actually runs a deficit with Germany. Imports from Germany increased 33.4 percent in 2010, resulting in a $6.29 billion deficit.
According to figures released by Beijing, China and Germany have increased mutual investment. By April, Germany had invested in 7,110 projects in China, with financial input totaling $17.67 billion.
China replaced Europe this year to become the "most favorite investment destination" for Germany, and 43 percent of German investors have expressed a desire to boost production in China.
Wen, on his fifth visit to Germany as premier, briefed Merkel on the measures China had taken to counter inflation and maintain stable economic development, while Merkel explained Germany's views on the current European debt crisis.
China has repeatedly said that "when Europe has difficulties, we extend a helping hand", Wen said at the news conference.
"We have said that we have confidence in the European economy, that we have confidence in the euro. We have also said that we support some countries, as needed, in that we buy their government bonds."
Wen insisted that the difficulties of some European Union countries "are of a temporary character".
Commerce Minister Chen Deming agreed to further expand bilateral trade between China and Germany. He suggested that the two countries make full use of the first China-Germany inter-government consultation to enhance economic relations.
Wen arrived in Berlin on Monday for the last leg of his three-nation Europe tour, which has already taken him to Hungary and Britain.