Enhancing trade in education and the primary industries will feature as key discussion points at next month’s New Zealand China Mayoral Forum.
New Zealand mayors will be making the most of the opportunity to meet with their Chinese counterparts at the second Forum, to be held in Wellington on 3-4 December.
At the Forum 12 Chinese mayors and vice-mayors from mid and large-sized cities will be joined in Wellington by 38 New Zealand mayors to further strengthen relationships between regions of both countries.
Trade and investment opportunities in tourism, education and primary industries will be central to discussions at this year’s Forum. China is New Zealand’s largest source of foreign students, with 34,000 in 2016, and in 2016 took $9.4 billion of export goods with primary products top of the list.
Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says the first Forum at Xiamen in China in 2015 was “hugely beneficial” for both cultural and civic purposes and for international education, tourism and trade.
Mr Smith, who will speak the Forum on education, says good relationships with China are important for towns, cities and districts, as well as the country as a whole, and the Forum will help strengthen these important partnerships.
“We have nearly 4,000 Chinese residents, and approximately another 1,000 Chinese international students or academics in the city each year and it is not uncommon to hear Mandarin spoken in the main street of Palmerston North,” Mr Smith says. “We are looking forward to continuing to promote Palmerston North and New Zealand to the Chinese as a great place to study, visit or trade and do business in.”
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall says excellent relationships with China are important to strengthening the future of the primary sector.
“The primary sector is so important to New Zealand,” Mr McDouall says. “We have the expertise and we have the pasture and now we need to build these relationships for a sustainable and economically beneficial future. China is one of the great economies and if we can help feed their population that will be beneficial and quite an honour.”
Occasions like the Forum provide valuable opportunities to do that, Mr McDouall says.
LGNZ President Dave Cull says trade with China has tripled since 2007, to $23 billion in the June 2016 year, making the need for continued relationship building increasingly important.
“The Forum is an excellent opportunity for both the country as a whole and the regions to enhance our relationships with New Zealand’s largest trading partner,” Mr Cull says.
“There is much to be gained for our communities in developing a greater understanding and appreciation of how China operates. The Forum provides a new sub-national engagement to further enhance and develop political and trade relations for the future.”
Justin Lester, Mayor of host city Wellington, says Xiamen and Wellington are celebrating 30 years of a Sister City relationship at the Forum.
“We are delighted to mark this milestone during the course of the Forum,” Mr Lester says.
The Forum is supported by platinum sponsor the China Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand and Bank of China, with additional support from sponsors China Travel Services Ltd, Fonterra, Huawei, the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, Silver Fern Express Ltd, the University of Auckland’s Centre for Asia-Pacific Excellence and the New Zealand China Council and Hastings District Council.
The talks will include mayors, vice mayors and officials from the following Chinese cities: Baoji City, Dunhuang City, Guangzhou City, Heihe City, Hohhot City, Huaibei City, Liaoyang City,
Qingdao City, Qingyuan City, Shenzhen City, Weinan City and Xiamen City.
The talks will include mayors and officials from the following New Zealand towns, cities and districts: Auckland, Ashburton, Central Hawke’s Bay, Central Otago, Christchurch, Clutha, Dunedin, Far North, Gisborne, Gore, Hamilton, Hastings, Hauraki, Hutt City, Invercargill, Kapiti, Kawerau, Manawatu, Marlborough, Matamata-Piako, Napier, Nelson, Opotiki, Otorohanga, Palmerston North, Porirua, Queenstown Lakes, Rangitikei, Rotorua, Selwyn, Tararua, Taupo, Tauranga, Thames-Coromandel, Timaru, Upper Hutt, Wellington and Whanganui.