Auckland is opening up discussions about the future form of the historic Tripartite Economic Alliance with sister cities Guangzhou and Los Angeles.
Part of the agreement, signed in November 2014, was to stage an economic summit in each of the cities over the first three years. The third summit will be held in Guangzhou in September-October, after Los Angeles and Auckland had their turns in 2015 and 2016.
Auckland will send a strong business delegation to Guangzhou -- and is keen to maintain contact after 2017. The summits have provided important connections and momentum, and the participant Auckland companies have appreciated that a politically-led delegation is crucial for opening up doors to meetings and opportunities, particularly in China.
Auckland Council's Global Partnerships and Strategy team is preparing a paper about renewing the alliance and pursuing ongoing business contacts. One thought is: rather than having an annual summit, the business delegations should meet at major trade/innovation events in each other's city.
For instance, Auckland companies wanting to enter the China and United States markets could engage with prospective partners and investors at a selected Guangzhou business event (the city has a full calendar of them), and at trade events such as SELECT LA Investment Summit, Southern California's premier international gathering.
Delegations from Guangzhou and Los Angeles could attend Techweek in Auckland.
The Auckland discussion paper will be circulated to the Guangzhou Municipal Government and Los Angeles City Council within the next two months -- with the aim of having an agreement on the next steps by the time the economic summit is held in Guangzhou.
The Tripartite Economic Alliance -- the first of its kind in the world for sister cities -- set a new benchmark for how global cities engage, collaborate and create mutual economic growth opportunities in the 21st century.
The alliance enables the three cities to share knowledge and information including research and development, create jobs, and enhance trade and investment based on common themes such as innovation and technology.
At the economic summit in Auckland last May, the Guangzhou Urban Planning Design Survey Research Institute (GZPI), Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) and the Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) Design Alliance signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up an urban design alliance to share knowledge and design principles and benefit the sustainable development of the three cities.
The Tripartite Economic Alliance -- the first of its kind in the world for sister cities -- set a new benchmark for how global cities engage, collaborate and create mutual economic growth opportunities.
Four MoUs were signed by Auckland and Guangzhou and Auckland University on science and technology collaborative studies into cancer, new anti-diabetic medicines, degenerative diseases and obesity related metabolic diseases.
Auckland has also signed co-productions with Chinese and American film-makers, with the local region becoming a favoured location for feature films and television series.
These agreements will ensure there is an ongoing working relationship in urban design, medical advances and film production resulting from the economic alliance.
The cities are also collaborating on air quality solutions, waterfront regeneration, ports partnerships, and transport management.
From discussions held at the successful Auckland summit, the AR/VR Garage in Eden Terrace was established and now has more than 20 tenants, with corporates such as Microsoft and Datacom being involved.
The Auckland summit spurred interest among local export-oriented companies in attending the Guangzhou event later this year.
At least 75 per cent of Auckland businesses involved in the summit indicated they would increase trading with China or the United States, 30 per cent indicated they would expand into China or the United States, and 50 per cent wanted to participate in the delegation to Guangzhou.
The Auckland summit attracted nearly 700 delegates, double the anticipated number of 350; a total of 300 business matching meetings and more than 90 speakers over two days. Guangzhou sent a 70-strong delegation led by vice-mayor Wang Dong.
The business matching was one of the highlights of the summit. When the businesses registered they were asked to state their interests and objectives, and matchings were made.
The "matched" businesses made contact, had initial discussions and meetings were arranged before they arrived in Auckland. The meetings ranged over topics such as entering each other's market with an expert local partner, discovering the perfect supplier, and finding a R&D partner or investment opportunity.
The Guangzhou delegation was so impressed with this innovation that it asked Auckland to help them implement the business-matching method at their summit.
Early on in organising the summit, the three cities agreed on the industry sectors that would be featured -- high-value food, entertainment and digital media, advanced materials, smart data and (urban) design. The cities assembled delegations with specific interest in those sectors. Matching the interests made the summit more active and effective.
The Guangzhou summit will focus on key sectors such as advanced manufacturing, digital and creative, food innovation, biomedicine, urban design, tourism and e-commerce.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development will be assembling a delegation of civic leaders, academics, urban planners, and business leaders who will be at different levels of doing business in China.
Initial planning also involves an "Auckland Showcase Day" in Guangzhou and making site visits to New Zealand companies established in the city to learn how leading exporters are succeeding in Southern China. There, the visiting Auckland businesspeople will get a real insight into the pros and cons of entering the Chinese market.