The icewoman cometh

The icewoman cometh

The visit of Iceland’s prime minister to Beijing this week was viewed as a landmark moment (and not because the world’s first openly-gay leader arrived in the Chinese capital with her wife, Jónina Leósdóttir, something that Chinese media didn’t mention).

The bigger news was that Iceland’s PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir has signed Europe’s first free trade deal with China. Categorised rather unimaginatively by Premier Li Keqiang as “a major event in China-Iceland relations”, the Nordic country’s seafood industry is expected to be a major beneficiary of the deal’s lower tariffs. Many duties will be lowered to zero, Sigurðardóttir said, meaning that Icelandic consumers will benefit from cheaper Chinese-made goods.

But we probably shouldn’t get too excited about the ramifications of the announcement for the global economy. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, bilateral trade between the two countries was $152 million in 2011 (although China Daily points out enthusiastically that the figure was up 35% on 2010).

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