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China foreign minister attends Munich Security Conference amid coronavirus outbreak

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a news conference after restoring diplomatic ties with Kiribati on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S. September 27, 2019.

Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters

MUNICH — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will travel to Germany this weekend to discuss the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, among other national security issues.

Wang is slated to give a keynote speech at the annual Munich Security Conference, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

He is expected to discuss Beijing’s efforts to contain the flu-like virus, now named COVID-19. The virus has killed at least 1,384 people and sickened more than 64,453 worldwide.

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Since the deadly outbreak, Wang is the first Chinese senior official to travel overseas.

While the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases are in mainland China, the virus has also been identified in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Singapore, Nepal, Hong Kong, Macao, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Wang’s trip to Munich comes as German auto manufacturers brace for production and sale setbacks from the deadly coronavirus.

Cars, the nation’s top export, are uniquely affected by the coronavirus since so many German carmakers have established several auto plants throughout China.

His trip also comes on the heels of White House officials expressing doubts about the information coming out of China regarding the coronavirus. Researchers are skeptical that the official numbers from China reflect how contagious the virus truly is.

China “also continues to rebuff American offers of assistance,” a senior administration official told CNBC.

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IMF chief says the outbreak could derail global economic growth

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva delivers her curtain raiser speech previewing the key issues to be addressed in the Annual Meetings in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2019.

NICHOLAS KAMM | AFP | Getty Images

International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva said the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak is the “most pressing uncertainty” facing the world economy right now.

The international health emergency that “we did not anticipate in January” now threatens to derail global economic growth that was already under pressure from a global trade war and Brexit, she said Wednesday in a blog post published on the IMF‘s website.

“It is a stark reminder of how a fragile recovery could be threatened by unforeseen events,” she added.

The virus has already slowed China’s economic growth this year, Georgieva said, just how much depends on efforts by world leaders to contain the fast-spreading outbreak.

“If the disruptions from the virus end quickly, we expect the Chinese economy to bounce back soon,” she wrote, adding that China’s GDP growth would drop sharply in the first quarter of 2020, it would be a minor hit on the year. “Spillovers to other countries would remain relatively minor and short-lived, mostly through temporary supply chain disruptions, tourism, and travel restrictions.”

Originating in the city of Wuhan, the new coronavirus has infected more than 75,200 people in over two dozen countries, killing at least 2,000 people as of Wednesday.

To contain the virus, cities around China have issued quarantine orders that have effectively shut down typically bustling places. The outbreak, as well as the effort to contain it, has already led multinational companies like Apple to warn investors about reduced demand and supply chain interruptions.

The IMF’s Georgieva warns that a long-lasting outbreak would have significant consequences for the Chinese and global economies.

“Its global impact would be amplified through more substantial supply chain disruptions and a more persistent drop in investor confidence, especially if the epidemic spreads beyond China,” she said in the post.

Georgieva told CNBC recently that this week and next are crucial in determining the economic impact of the outbreak as factories throughout China are set to resume operations. She also cautioned against comparing the COVID-19 outbreak to SARS in 2003, which some economists estimate cost the global economy $45 billion.

China only represented 8% of the world economy in the early 2000s and now makes up a 19% share, she pointed out.

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Airbus defense division plans to cut more than 2,300 jobs

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JetBlue’s new Airbus A321neo at New York’s Kennedy Airport.

Leslie Josephs | CNBC

The defense business of Airbus on Wednesday laid out plans to cut more than 2,300 jobs, citing a flat space market and postponed defense contracts.

The aircraft maker said its Airbus Defense and Space division had entered consultation with the company’s European works council on the planned cutbacks.

The plan foresees the reduction of 2,362 positions until the end of 2021, of which 829 would be in Germany, 357 in Britain, 630 in Spain, 404 in France and 141 in other countries, according to a statement.

The head of the defense business said on Saturday that talks were about to start with labor representatives as the German-based group retrenches following setbacks with its A400M military transporter.

Recurring technical problems with the A400M led the German air force to refuse delivery of two of the aircraft last autumn.

The group has also taken a $1.3 billion charge on the worsening sales outlook, with a German ban on defense exports to Saudi Arabia causing Airbus Defense and Space to lose a promising potential customer, Dirk Hoke said.

Airbus Defense and Space, formed in 2014 as part of a broader restructuring, employs 34,000 staff – 13,000 of them in Germany – and contributes around a fifth of revenues to parent group Airbus.

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Two Iranians die after testing positive for coronavirus

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A worker at a factory in Nanjing sorting face masks being produced to satisfy increased demand during China’s COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in China’s Jiangsu province.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

Two Iranians have died in hospital after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the holy Shi’ite city of Qom, the head of the city’s University of Medical Sciences told Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

“Two Iranians, who tested positive earlier today for new coronavirus, died of respiratory illness,” the official told Mehr.

Iran’s health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur confirmed their death on Twitter.

Iran confirmed earlier on Wednesday its first two cases of the virus, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, shortly after reports that preliminary tests on the two had come back positive.

The health ministry said earlier that the patients had been put in isolation.

Rabiei did not give the nationality of the two people infected, but some reports suggested that they were Iranian nationals.

The death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 on Wednesday although the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan.

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