39 People on Mayoral Delegation to China

23 May 2012

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown will this weekend fly out at the head of a 39-member delegation that aims to further strengthen business ties between Wellington and a number of cities in China.

Leaving Wellington this Saturday 26 May, the delegation will be 'on the road' for seven days, visiting Beijing, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

Mayor Wade-Brown will be accompanied by City Councillor Jo Coughlan - the Council's Economy Portfolio Leader - and a varied and high-powered group representing big and small business from Wellington and beyond.

The group includes representatives from large organisations including the Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce, Positively Wellington Tourism, Grow Wellington, Airways Corporation and Whitireia Polytechnic.

Local interests represented on the trip include technology, architecture, the dairy industry, horticulture, education, landscape design and sportsfield installation, jewellery, textiles - even professional rugby coaching.

Mayor Wade-Brown says a number of companies are returning to China with the Mayoral delegation, demonstrating the great importance of business links with China and the ability for mayors to help initiate and develop trade opportunities

"Politicians open doors in China. That's why I'm leading this delegation and why Auckland Mayor Len Brown led a group to China recently.

"Mayors and senior politicians have status in China that they don't have back here in New Zealand."

Mayor Wade-Brown says the fact some delegation members are making a repeat visit - at no small expense to them - is an indication of the value of these trips. "I'm also particularly pleased with the interest from China in environmental services and clean technology services."

"We will also collectively promote Wellington as a wonderful destination for business, education, investment and tourism." 

Cr Coughlan says the delegation fits with the City Council's Economic Development Strategy adopted last year and attending the China International Fair in Trade Services will further promote Wellington as an international exporter of professional services and intellectual property.

"Wellington businesses are well-positioned to export professional services such as education, design and architecture to China and the rest of the world.

"The internet, our time zone, a highly-educated, creative and stable workforce and a favourable exchange rate see us ideally positioned to provide consultancy and back-office services globally.

"We have a goal of attracting 10,000 jobs in Wellington - that's why we're supporting businesses to make connections in China which ultimately could help grow their business while putting Wellington on the map as an investment destination that's open for business."

Wellington's sister city will pay for the Mayor's travel and economy-fare tickets for the Council staff accompanying her.

The trip also includes a visit to the site of the New Zealand Agricultural Park in Beijing. It is a proposed joint private sector and council initiative to create a massive New Zealand-style agricultural technology demonstration park that would provide tax incentives for participating New Zealand companies.

Cr Coughlan says a survey conducted by the Council following last year's visit found 100% of the delegates reported that they were satisfied with the visit.

Mayor Wade-Brown adds the visits to Beijing and Tianjin, in particular, strengthen long-standing relationships with Wellington.

"Going all the way back to Mayor Jim Belich in the late 1980s, my predecessors have forged strong ties with China. It is essential for New Zealand's links with China - and our mutual understanding across cultures - to continue to make the effort to visit."