Capital Hosts Biggest-ever Chinese Delegation

6 September 2012

The biggest Chinese delegation ever to visit Wellington will today sign a new 'strategic economic partnership' agreement with the region's Mayors.

The 180-strong delegation, from the south-east coast province of Zhejiang - which has a population of 54 million and an economy the size of Sweden's - is a direct result of Mayor Celia Wade-Brown's visit to China earlier this year.

The agreement is the first time councils throughout the Wellington region have worked closely with central government (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) to produce a Memorandum of Cooperation with China.

The trade mission, led by Zhejiang Governor Mr Xia Baolong, will also sign a Wellington Trade and Business Cooperation Projects agreement.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett, Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace and Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan will sign the agreement at the Town Hall at 4pm.

Zhejiang company representatives are also expected to sign deals with New Zealand companies worth millions of dollars. In Wellington, the delegation will meet with Richard Taylor from Weta Workshop and Victoria Spackman from the Gibson Group.

The delegation also includes representatives from the Zhejiang Radio and Television Group, which will produce a documentary about Wellington - an initiative of the Council's Economy Portfolio Leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan, who accompanied the Mayor on the visit to China in May. Zhejiang Television is broadcast throughout China with a potential reach of 900 million people. The Chinese and English language documentary is expected to be broadcast in 56 countries.

Members will visit Cuba Street, the Cable Car, the waterfront, the Wellington Writers Walk, coffee roasting at Cafe L'affare, Moore Wilson Fresh, Lambton Quay, the Botanic Garden, Parliament Buildings, Te Papa, the seal colony on the South Coast, Terawhiti Station and Meridian Energy's Makara wind farm. They will also dine at Martin Bosley's, Logan Brown, Monsoon Poon and Boulcott Street Bistro.

"With a GDP of over $US495 billion, Zhejiang is one of the most prosperous provinces in China, and it is looking to engage with New Zealand through trade and investment," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

"Wellington is a valuable region to partner because it includes the capital city and is home to our government and a diverse range of businesses. We offer creative and cultural opportunities in health, education, science and clean-tech partnerships.

"Hangzhou's West Lake World Heritage site and our beautiful harbour and hinterland also offer mutual tourism opportunities.

"The Strategic Economic Partnership: Memorandum of Cooperation aims to increase opportunities for trade, study and mutual understanding of our cities. It will also increase exchanges between the regions.

"Today Wellington is taking a leading role in New Zealand's China Strategy, which recognises the importance of local government ties."

Cr Coughlan says the delegation's visit is significant and fits with the Council's Economic Development Strategy, which is about defining Wellington's competitive advantage, strengthening international and business trade connections and fostering an environment that is easy, efficient and affordable to invest and do business.

"Wellington is one of the world's best kept secrets as a place to do business and this sort of high-level political and business delegation can really help spread the word about what we can offer," says Cr Coughlan.

"We know that people who experience Wellington find the city to be a very attractive place to visit, live and work. 

"Strengthening international business and trade connections, such as using the political resources and city-to-city relationships, can definitely help to attract trade and investment."