Beijing — Germany’s BASF managed to wrap up a preliminary deal to build China’s first wholly foreign-owned chemicals complex quite quickly, aided in part by trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, sources with knowledge of the matter said. The proposed complex, worth some $10bn in investment to 2030, will be located in Guangdong, China’s most populous province, which had been worried about the impact of a US decision to heavily penalise telecom firm ZTE, also based there. Fears that a US-China trade war would hurt investment prospects for the business-friendly province made local government officials that much more receptive to overtures by BASF, a global giant with state-of-the art technology, separate people briefed on matter also said. BASF’s announcement, part of $23bn worth of bilateral deals unveiled as German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Berlin this week is conspicuous for its timing, trade and chemical industry experts said. In reaching o...

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