High-power city team off to Asia

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Mayor Stuart Crosby will take a 14-person mayoral delegation to Asia next month as part of Tauranga's sister cities agreements.

The 12-day trip in early April will include Yantai in China and Hitachi in Japan and a visit to South Korea to discuss a potential connection with Ansan city. The Ansan mayor requested the meeting during his trip to Tauranga last year.

Along with the Mayor, the delegation would be made up of councillor Matt Cowley, representatives from Export NZ, economic development group Priority One, Education Tauranga, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, University of Waikato, Tourism Bay of Plenty, Port of Tauranga and local businesses.

Ratepayers would pay almost $14,000 for flights, visas and accommodation during stopovers for Mr Crosby and a council staff member organising the trip but each of the other delegates, including Mr Cowley, would pay their own way. The cost of accommodation, meals and internal transport would be covered by the host cities.

Tauranga City Council communications manager Frank Begley said the value of the trip could be gauged by the number of high-profile business leaders who were prepared to invest their own money in it.

"What you will find is that the mayor's presence opens doors that are very difficult to open otherwise," he said. "And this can lead to business and exporting opportunities. Yes, there are some costs involved, but the potential benefits are huge."

Mr Crosby said the exchange visits to each city were a key part of maintaining and strengthening the sister city relationships. "We have developed strong working relationships over the years and these connections have provided many benefits to Tauranga economically, socially and culturally. It's important for Tauranga to be outward looking as the potential for gains for our city are immense."

"On this occasion we will have specific focus on food and beverage export products and education. The opportunities are endless and, as a city, we should continually be putting our mind to how to create lasting benefits for all our citizens."

During the trip delegates would promote high-end Tauranga food and beverage export products; sign a memorandum of agreement between Yantai University, Waikato University and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic; sign a document establishing the China New Zealand Costal Biotechnology Joint Research Centre; attend the opening of the Zespri Kiwifruit Conference in Tokyo and investigate opportunities to develop a relationship with Ansan.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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