Mug up on Mandarin

Published Thursday, 16 February 2012
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So where is the man tipped to be China's next leader visiting after leaving the United States?

The answer is Ireland.

Xi Jinping arrives in Shannon this Saturday for a three day trip around the Republic. Not only is the Vice President making the South the focus of his next stopover, this visit is one of only two being made in Europe.

Mr Xi is not travelling alone. He will bring a 150 strong delegation with him when he lands at Shannon where he will be met by the Tanaiste Eamonn Gilmore.

Among the treats in store for Mr Xi are a display of sporting skills by the GAA at Croke Park and a private performance of Riverdance in Dublin. However, it's likely business will never be too far from the minds of all concerned.

So why on earth is such a prominent world leader turning up on this island?

In fact China's business with Ireland is not a small matter. The value of trade between the two countries is about £7 billion. Ireland is one of the very few states in the world to run a trade surplus with China.

Another significant point in Ireland's favour is that the country has been seen to turn around its fortunes.

It's been receiving favourable reports from the IMF-EU-ECB troika about its austerity plan and the way it is building up exports.

Of huge significance is the fall is the cost of Irish borrowing.

Last summer Ireland would have had to pay an interest rate of over 14% to secure a ten year loan.

That's now more than halved to just under 7%.

While still worryingly high it nevertheless marks a vote of confidence by the international bond markets in Ireland.

Time to mug up on Mandarin perhaps?

© UTV News
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Jamie Delargy
Jamie Delargy

Jamie Delargy is UTV's Business Editor with a keen eye on local and global economic issues.

A Cambridge Philosophy graduate, Jamie had a brief spell in teaching before launching his career in journalism. In his spare time he enjoys a spot of tennis and is an avid reader.

His favourite saying is "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

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