Belfast Telegraph

A jump in the trade deficit must be set aside - we have guests to impress

By David Elliot

Just when the phones had stopped ringing long enough for a mixture of holiday-week-induced blue sky thinking to really take hold, the can of export strength business news was cracked open and it was all hands to the pump.

China was the theme of the day, a story which was worked in seamlessly with news of an upsurge in the amount of money spent by tourists over the last year and even an uptick in numbers.

Such news is great to see, especially when one of the biggest ways we can gain a chunk of the newly affluent Chinese wallet is by attracting them to these shores.

Granted, the 20% upsurge in spend can be considered a bounce from a slump in tourism in the preceding years, but in this climate any positive needs to be grasped with both hands.

The real test will come this time next year when we'll see the tourism numbers from the opening months of the Titanic project (below), one which promises to bringing hundreds of thousands of additional visitors to this shores.

And with any luck, Madam Liu Yandong will be suitably impressed with what Northern Ireland's economy has to offer so that she'll encourage businesses there to at least try our goods and services or to even come here to set up an office or factory.

We're certainly going to need it if today's trade figures are anything to go by.

The jump in the trade deficit has dealt a blow to even the most bullish forecast for the economy and the chances that a further contraction in output has been witnessed in the first quarter of this year is growing.

Two consecutive quarters of growth and the dreaded 'r' word raises it's head: recession.

But lets not worry about that now.

After all, we've got a visitor to impress.