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Morning business round-up: Germany boosts trade surplus

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

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In Europe, Germany's trade surplus reached 158bn euros (£132bn; $209bn) in 2011 on record exports that rose 11.4% to top 1tn euros for the first time.

The national statistics office also said that imports rose 13.2% to reach an all-time high of 902bn euros.

In 2010, the trade surplus for Europe's biggest economy was 155bn euros.

But there was worse news for a major European exporter. Aircraft maker Airbus has been ordered to check all A380 superjumbo planes currently in service after cracks were found in wing components.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has ordered all 68 Airbus A380 superjumbo planes currently in operation to be checked.

Last month, EASA ordered checks of 20 A380 jets worldwide.

And fellow manufacturer Vestas has also run into trouble. The finance chief of the world's largest maker of wind turbines has quit and other directors will not be seeking re-election to the board.

The upheaval came after Vestas reported a loss about four times greater than analysts had expected.

Chief financial officer Henrik Norremark resigned on Tuesday.

Chairman Bent Erik Carlsen, deputy chairman Torsten Erik Rasmussen, and director Freddy Frandsen will not stand for re-election, said a statement.

In the latest news on the eurozone, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is due to meet coalition parties in an attempt to seal an austerity agreement to secure a new bailout.

The three parties were handed the draft after final touches were agreed between Mr Papademos and officials from the troika of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The accord is likely to include a 20% minimum wage reduction, pension cuts and 15,000 civil service lay-offs.

While the saga of UK bankers' bonuses continues, Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester told the BBC he briefly considered resigning during the uproar over his bonus.

Mr Hester said he was "not a robot" and added there had been some "deeply depressing" moments.

He was speaking in his first broadcast interview since he turned down a bonus worth almost £1m last month.

However, the chief executive said it would have been "indulgent" of him to resign.

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In Asian business news, Nissan has reported a 3.6% rise in profits for the October to December quarter despite disruptions caused by floods in Thailand.

Japan's second-largest carmaker posted a net profit of $1.07bn (£674m), up from $1.03bn a year earlier.

Its earnings were boosted by a 19.5% jump in sales. It sold 1.2 million vehicles worldwide during the period.

India has reached an agreement with Iran on how to continue paying for its crude oil imports, as US-led sanctions against Iran are tightened.

India will pay 45% into Indian bank accounts opened by Iran and invest in Iranian infrastructure.

The sanctions are partly intended to block international bank transactions with Iran.

A company linked to the Chinese news agency Xinhua has begun trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The move comes after an existing listed company, Tsun Yip Holdings, acquired Xinhua TV Asia-Pacific Operating Co Ltd last year.

Many Chinese media outlets are trying to expand their reach outside their home market.

Hong Kong is seen as a gateway for Chinese companies to do business in the rest of the world.

And falling commodity prices have pushed down profits at the world's biggest mining company, BHP Billiton.

The Anglo-Australian company reported a 5.5% annual drop in first-half net profit to $9.9bn (£6.2bn).

It also warned of a volatile outlook due to Europe's debt crisis and slowing demand from China.

The prices of benchmark commodities such as iron ore, copper and coal have gradually fallen over the last few months.

In the latest edition of Business Daily, there is a feast of ideas on how to make food production more sustainable.

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