Although the sister city relationship with Huangshi has been in place for 17 years, we are only now beginning to develop the business side, says Bill Findlater. Nelson has always done well in food production and developing food-based products, and Bill believes this will give us an advantage in the next 20 to 40 years. “If you draw a 12-hour travel distance radius around Huangshi, you have access to one billion people from 20 provinces and cities; if you shorten that to a four-hour travel radius, it’s 400 million people. If we can capture just part of that market, we won’t need anywhere else in China.”
As well as continuing to develop business opportunities through contacts in our sister city Huangshi in Hubei Province and our Friendly City Yangjiang in Guangdong Province we also have connections in many other areas of China and with the Chinese Embassy and Consulate.
In preparation for trading with China, local businesses need to appreciate that the Chinese are market-led, not production based.
Unless you have champions at the other end you will struggle.
Bill sees the role of the EDA as a facilitator, to produce opportunities for our region. The payoff for Nelson, he says, will be better paying jobs, jobs for young people, and businesses with a ready market for their products.
Relationship of Trust
The value of our Sister City relationship with Huangshi is limitless, according to former Nelson City Mayor, Aldo Miccio. He says Huangshi’s population is hungry for New Zealand products and the opportunities for business exchanges are immense. “Huangshi has few Western products and it is a big market – the growth rates are extraordinary so there is definitely an opportunity to cement a place for Nelson or New Zealand products, especially food products,” he says.
As the food bowl of New Zealand, Aldo believes the Chinese see Nelson’s horticulture, agriculture and seafood products as trusted and safe. He says we need to add value and create something different.
Our competitive advantage is in the integrity of the New Zealand brand – it has all the values the Chinese are looking for.
Aldo says it’s about knowing what the Chinese consumer market tastes are, and making sure our products are tested and proven. “It’s a relationship of trust – Nelsonians need a cultural understanding of China, an appreciation of Chinese history and an acceptance of two-way trade,” Aldo says. “Relationships don’t develop overnight but if you are willing to go over to China, meet people and build trust, then there are lots of opportunities for both parties to prosper.”
Sister City Definitions & Mayoral Delegations
Benefits to Businesses
Benefits to businesses travelling with a mayoral delegation include:
- New Zealand mayors can play an important role in opening doors in China as mayors of Chinese cities have significant political power and influence.
- A business delegation led by a high-ranking political figure gets more traction (NZ Inc China Strategy).
Importance of Trade with China
New Zealand signed a free-trade agreement with China in 2008 – and was the first developed country to do so. Since then, business between the two nations has boomed. China has overtaken the United States as New Zealand’s second-largest export market.
A Sister City relationship is a formal, long-term relationship based on diverse linkages between the two cities – including cultural, educational and business links. The relationship requires a high degree of commitment on both sides, as well as the active involvement of a community committee.
A Friendly City relationship is less formal than a Sister City relationship and it generally has a lower profile. It is likely to be a long-term relationship but the level of community support and involvement is not as high as with a full Sister City relationship.
A Partnership City relationship is generally a shorter-term relationship based on a specific project or initiative that the two cities share.