The CEO of Ulster Bank, Jim Brown, welcomed His Excellency Ambassador XU, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Ireland to Ulster Bank Georges Quay on Thursday afternoon. The purpose of the visit was the latest Asia Trade Forum roundtable discussion with representatives of SME’s, corporations and industry bodies. Before taking up his current post this year, Ambassador XU enjoyed an esteemed career, including serving as China’s Ambassador in Georgia, Nigeria and New Zealand.
New Chinese Ambassador to Ireland
It was a very enjoyable and insightful session and the Ambassador provided some helpful insights into the potential for Irish export success in China by comparing our economy to that of the equidistant country of New Zealand. NZ has enjoyed a very strong trading relationship with the PRC for the last couple of decades, primarily focussed on the dairy sector- demonstrably a premium resource here too.
The Ambassador also focused on several ways in which Ireland could drive foreign direct investment from China; here are a few highlights:
- Airlines, airport authorities and government departments should be encouraged to facilitate direct flights between Ireland and China (several examples of how supply has driven demand were highlighted)
- The process for a Chinese national getting a visa needs to be improved (apparently 21 days to get one for here versus China’s 4 days going in the other direction)
- Ireland should not play up the old tagline used to attract US investment “gateway to Europe”. The Ambassador pointed out that this is unhelpful and factually incorrect- Eastern Europe has a significant advantage in this respect. The English language is however a strong and compelling point to be made.
These and many other points made for a lively afternoon of discussion.
As I have mentioned before, Ulster Bank is fully committed to Asia and has been headline sponsor of the Asia Trade Forum since its inception three years ago. Our parent RBS has been present in China since 1903 and through them, we have a specialised China Desk in London and an on-the-ground presence in five cities in China.