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Committee for Geelong's Weekly Addy Opinion Piece - Links to China

Last week, the Committee for Geelong collaborated with the City of Greater Geelong to join the Victorian State Government's Regional Cities Alliance delegation to China.  The purpose of the visit was to provide an opportunity for regional cities from Victoria and the Jiangsu Province to build on and strengthen existing relationships, and identify new opportunities for collaboration.

The Jiangsu Province has the second-largest economy in China and is the lead Province for foreign investment.  The Jiangsu-Victoria sister-state relationship was signed in 1979, and both states now share an active relationship based on a history of engagement.  In order to extend collaboration beyond government, the 'Committee for' organisations were also invited to join the delegation.  While civic relationships are important when undertaking paradiplomacy, especially in China, business connections can lead to greater, and more sustainable, economic collaboration.

The Geelong delegation also visited sister-city Lianyungang, located in the north eastern part of Jiangsu Province.  Geelong and Lianyungang have shared a relationship since 1991.  Lianyungang is a seaport city and was one of the first Chinese coastal cities opened to foreign trade.  Its key industries include new pharmaceuticals, new materials, new energy and high-end equipment manufacturing, petro chemicals and port logistics.  Importantly, Lianyungang is the designated starting point for the New Eurasian Continental Land Bridge, a rail link from China to western Europe connecting the city with over 40 countries and regions in Europe, South Asia and the Middle East.

During our visit to Lianyungang, we met with representatives from the Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, China Chamber of International Commerce, Chamber of Commerce, Foreign Trade Department, Bureau of Commerce and the Lianyungang Port Holdings Group.  We also visited Lianyungang's Economic and Technological Development Zone, which has been in operation since 1984.  Organisations such as Hansoh Pharmaceuticals operate from the zone, and Soniq TVs are made there - and exported for the Australian market.  At the Jiangsu-Victoria City Alliance Dialogue in Nanjing, Mr Li Guozhang, Deputy Director of Lianyungang Municipal People's Congress spoke positively about "the friendship tree and flower of collaboration blossoming" between Lianyungang and Geelong.

Going forward, a formal invitation will be issued to Lianyungang representatives to visit Geelong and attend Avalon Airshow in March 2017 to engage with businesses in our region and explore opportunities for trade.  Other opportunities include working with partners such as the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Geelong Manufacturing Council and Australia China Business Council to identify businesses in Geelong with an interest in doing trade in China - and specifically using Lianyungang as a gateway.

As Geelong transforms, it is vital that our city engages internationally and unlocks new economic opportunities in China - especially across sectors such as food, fibre, the visitor economy, international education, advanced manufacturing and technology.  The Committee for Geelong looks forward to collaborating with the Victorian State Government, the City of Greater Geelong, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, together with other partners, to further develop our city's links to Lianyungang.


Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter @Comm4Geelong.



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