On Tuesday, Bank of China opened its first branch in Dublin. The official ceremony was attended by Tian Guoli, Chairman of Bank of China, and by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, symbolizing the strengthening relationship between China and Ireland, and their many joint trade and financial interests.
Bank of China is China’s most internationally active bank, and has locations in more than 51 countries. Prior to the opening of a branch, it’s presence was already felt in Ireland through BOC Aviation, a separate company that leases aircrafts carriers in Ireland. The Bank is 64% owned by the Chinese government, and main focus in Ireland will be in corporate lending. It’s major customers will most likely be businesses with interests in China, multinationals, and Chinese firms with operations in Ireland.
Although it’s current interests are narrow, Bank of China hopes to build a diversified platform of services and products in Ireland within the next two years.
The official opening a location not only confirms the Bank’s commercial interests in Ireland, but also signals Irelands growing prominence as a destination for foreign investment.
Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment, said that “Chinese companies are now looking to internationalise their businesses and are viewing Ireland as the ‘gateway to Europe’ with a proven track record of being consistent, transparent and competitive”. Bank of China’s chairman, Mr. Guoli, echoes this statement, announcing that “China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative has unveiled a new round of globalization and [China] see Ireland as a perfect fit with this great endeavour”.
Despite fears that less investment from the UK will come into the country as a result of Brexit, it is evident that Ireland remains an attractive location for investments from other nations and is growing as a financial and technological hub in Europe.