This is IrelandApr 7th, 2009 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ireland
‘China-Africa trade totalled $62 bn in 2007″ declared and advertisement in last Saturday’s Financial Times for the newspaper’s in-house publication “This is Africa“.
Really? $62 billion? Turning a blind eye to the genocide in Darfur, embarrassing the South African government into refusing entry to the Dalai Lama, and various other activities that are, to say the least, questionable, for the sake of $62 billion? Aren’t they selling their souls very cheaply?
The Chinese aren’t in the same league as Dublin at all. A country of 1.3 billion people should generate numbers far larger. Here, in a country of 4 million people, we take billions in our stride.
The top fifteen borrowers at Anglo-Irish Bank, now owned by the Irish taxpayer, owe more than €500 million each, that’s at least €7.5 billion or $10 billion. In other words, the top debts to a single failed Irish bank constitute one-sixth of the figure for the total trade between China and Africa in 2007. Look at China and look at Africa and look at Ireland and ask yourself how anyone could seriously believe that the property bubble here was sustainable?
To put $62 billion into a further Irish perspective, in his emergency budget speech this afternoon the Finance Minister reported that Government revenues for the year were anticipated to be €34.5 billion. Against which, the anticipated Government expenditures are around €55 billion, though a punter down in the bookmakers is likely to be as accurate as economic forecasts at the current time. The minister anticipated a deficit of around €20 billion, which, at today’s exchange rates equates to around $26.6 billion.
The Irish Government deficit for one year is equivalent to more than 40% of the value of the total annual trade between China and Africa.
I thought this could not possibly be the case, there must be a zero or two missing somewhere. I even downloaded a report from the FT to check the figure in the advertisement. €62 billion is the right figure – Wen Jibao the Chinese premier had hoped it would reach $100 billion by 2010, that was before the current crisis began to bite so deeply.
China-Africa $62 billion in trade – Ireland $26 billion in debt.
We are in serious trouble. It’s no wonder the minister wants another €3,000 of our family’s income; he is so broke, he might be better taking everything.