One of New Zealand's most enduring sister city relationships with China is set to boost bilateral trade links with major business support, says a New Zealand official.
A high-level six-member delegation from the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress will arrive in Dunedin, the second city of New Zealand's South Island, to mark the 20th anniversary of the sister-city link this week.
Dunedin City Council business development advisor of international relations Margo Reid told Xinhua Monday that the link was becoming a major business driver for the city and the surrounding Otago region.
The city was in talks with the national carrier, Air New Zealand, which operates a regular Auckland-Shanghai service, on building possible supporting services, Reid said in a telephone interview.
"We're starting to get into the tourism arena. Air New Zealand is certainly very interested in the Shanghai market and understands that Dunedin-Shanghai relationship is important and so we've been talking to each other about how we can actually benefit from that," said Reid.
Air New Zealand representatives would also join a Dunedin City mayoral delegation to Shanghai, led by Mayor Dave Cull, in October in the hope of building greater business links with the Chinese metropolis, she said.
The Shanghai delegation, which would be in Dunedin from Tuesday to Thursday, followed "a lot more focused" relationship as a result of an updated sister city memorandum of understanding agreed last year.
"The relationship is a lot more detailed in the outcomes. We're certainly making great strides in education on both sides. That's a real area of strength," Reid said.
Both cities were thriving centers of excellence in education and the sister city link had been bolstered by a growing number of "sister school" relationships among high schools as well as university exchanges supported by a Dunedin mayoral scholarship program.
"There are a lot of tangible outcomes in the relationship. Economically, some of our businesses are starting to do very well. We're just about to publicly release a deal that's been signed in the last month between a leading Dunedin business and a Shanghai business," said Reid.
The partnership was helping New Zealand businesses look beyond Shanghai.
"We've also now got and economic partnership with Qingdao ( Shandong Province), north of Shanghai. That's starting to flourish and that has come about from the Fisher & Paykel-Haier collaboration," she said, referring to the Chinese whiteware giant 's takeover of the iconic New Zealand appliance maker in 2012.
"We've also got some opportunities developing in Chengdu ( Sichuan Province), so I certainly think that our relationship with Shanghai has been very positive for the city."
The friendship had been cemented with a Chinese garden that opened in Dunedin in 2008.
Although Dunedin has a population of just over 120,000 including an estimated student population of 25,000, according to the official Tourism Dunedin agency the city was an ideal New Zealand match for China's biggest city, said Reid.
"There is a long-standing Chinese settlement in Dunedin that has come out of the gold rushes of the 1860s and some very old Chinese families here who are just part of the fabric of the city so there were some nice synergies in that way," she said.
"Our understanding is that even though Shanghai has over 70 sister-city relationships now that we would be in their top five, which does seem extraordinary, but the relationship has always been based on just developing an understanding of each other."
The coming Shanghai delegation had expressed particular interest in learning about environmental protection, air pollution and sustainability, said Reid.