The New Zealand China Mayoral Forum held in Wellington last week, and organised by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), provided an opportunity for New Zealand mayor’s to meet with 12 of their Chinese counterparts to discuss issues of mutual interest, strengthen cooperation and enhance friendship.
The second New Zealand China Mayoral Forum to be held, this year’s event built on the success of the first forum held in Xiamen China in 2015.
The mayoral forums provide a new sub-national engagement to further enhance and develop political and trade relationships for the future.
The theme of this year’s forum was "Sustainable economies – balancing economic development with the environment."
Over the past decade the trade relationship between New Zealand and China has nearly tripled, with two-way trade rising from $8.2 billion in the year ended June 2007 to $23 billion in the June 2016 year.
This year’s forum was attended by Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis and Deputy Mayor Allan Benbow.
Mayor Collis said the New Zealand China relationship was an important one and she was delighted and honoured to be able to attend and promote Tararua to those who were there.
"We had a wonderful time at the forum and many introductions were made, it was a good opportunity to see how Tararua could work with China.
"Before we went we had a number of booklets produced in Chinese which gave an overview of our district and what it offered. I saw no other district booklet from anyone else and visitors really appreciated it being in Chinese."
Held over two days, discussion topics focused on tourism, education and primary industries.
A presentation by China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, gave an understanding of exporting to China and an insight into consumer preferences, industry trends and opportunities for New Zealand products in China through e-commerce.
Currently Alibaba’s figures show about 400 New Zealand companies are already on the platform, reaching out to two billion customers across the Asia region.
Attendees discussed promoting tourism innovations, experiences and investment opportunities between the two countries, and how New Zealand and China benefit from a rich and deep education relationship.
New Zealand and China have already developed a strong and lasting trade relationship in primary industries and the forum provided an opportunity to showcase those industries.
Mayor Collis said the Chinese mayors indicated they were keen to build friendships with New Zealand and are open to explore and deepen connections and cooperation with us.
"We must strengthen co-operation in tourism, brand promotion and education exchanges, 2019 is the China NZ Year of Tourism, so we need to be asking how we can attract those visitors to the Tararua District."
A declaration was signed to hold the forum again with the next one to be held in China.
PHOTOS: Deputy Mayor Allan Benbow, Steve Culevski, Manager The Kiwi Sock Company Ltd., and Mayor Tracey Collis talking to a representative from Alipay.