Results from China Trip

11 June 2012

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown's trade delegation that set out to strengthen business ties between Wellington and a number of cities in China reaped immediate rewards with the signing of some significant business deals.

The delegation has formed stronger ties between Wellington businesses and China

The delegation has formed stronger ties between Wellington businesses and China

The 39-member group, representing big and small business, returned last week confident its work will be a boon for Wellington and the region's economy.

Local jewellers The Village Goldsmith, through their international arm The Inspired Collection, agreed to design unique engagement rings for the 300-store 'I Do' bridal shop chain throughout China.

In another notable deal, Airways New Zealand signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing that paves the way for training Chinese air traffic controllers in New Zealand.

And Whitireia Polytechnic established a cooperation agreement with China's Capital University of Physical Education and Sports that will see Chinese students coming to Wellington for outdoor adventure programmes.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says China's interest in cleaner technology, creative industry, and its friendship with New Zealand gives us a significant advantage.

She says the organisation has a number of strong leads to follow up as a result of meetings on the China trip.

"Some of these could be quite significant for the region. Because of its size and growth rate, China has huge potential to help grow the Wellington regional economy. Building relationships is an important precursor to doing business in China and spending time in the market is essential."

Airways Chief Executive Ed Sims says China has plans to build about 150 airports over the next 10 years and this opens up huge employment opportunities for Airways and for New Zealanders.

"Travelling with the delegation was a great opportunity to meet again with our contacts in China and talk about how Airways can help them as they go through this period of enormous growth," he says.

"Airways' status as a state-owned enterprise carries tremendous mana in countries like China. The presence of the Mayor in active support reaffirms for our Chinese colleagues the level of political backing Airways receives at both the national and regional-civic levels."

Village Goldsmith founder Ian Douglas says being part of the trade delegation to China "completely reinforced" his belief that meeting personally with Hiersun, the Chinese company his company is designing for, is crucial.

"Only so much can be achieved by email and the Chinese certainly value personal interaction and meeting face to face.

"Our desire is to grow our business, employ more young graduate talent and create a jewellery-focused design hub in Wellington. To do so requires venturing into new international markets, and whilst China was not first on our list initially, it has proven to be the most receptive to our designs and business model. It is a market with one of the world's highest growth rates and has huge potential if managed carefully."

Wellington City Council's Economy Portfolio Leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says China is a very important market for Wellington's business, education, investment, tourism and professional services sectors.

"The value of face-to-face meetings to develop business relationships in China cannot be underestimated."

Cr Coughlan says the agreements and deals sealed on the latest trip to China underline the importance of trade delegations and is proof of the talent, creativity and diversity of the Wellington economy.

"When you look at what we did in a week, I know that our goal of delivering 10,000 jobs is possible," she says.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and New Zealand, and the sixth anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Wellington and Beijing.