Central Otago chance for closer links with China

Central Otago District Council economic development manager Warwick Hawker. Photo: Archive
Central Otago District Council economic development manager Warwick Hawker. Photo: Archive
China's strategic belt and road initiative (BRI), is the focus of this week's export forum in Alexandra.

The strategy was launched in 2014 and designed to promote closer ties between China and other countries through development-led trade growth and investment opportunities.

The forum is hosted by the Central Otago District Council at the Alexandra Community House tomorrow from 4pm.

Council economic development manager Warwick Hawker is organising the event.

He said the meeting was one of several, which the New Zealand China Council executive director Stephen Jacobi was holding throughout the country.

To date, 69 countries and organisations have signed up to be part of the BRI, and New Zealand signed a memorandum of arrangement in 2017.

That meant the two countries undertook to explore ways of working together to expand trade and investment opportunities.

''We haven't done a forum for a while and it is the ideal opportunity,'' Mr Hawker said.

He said the forum would be an excellent opportunity for people interested in exporting or seeking investment with China to get together to find out about the strategy and to network.

China is a growing market for Central Otago's fruit, especially cherries, as well as wine.

The number of Chinese visitors coming to Central Otago and New Zealand in general, is expected to grow yearly and 2019 has been named the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism.

Mr Hawker said the BRI could also provide opportunities for investments, which ''ticked all the boxes'' for both New Zealand and China.

Other areas include the innovation, (start up business incubators), biosecurity, education and creative sectors, such as encouraging more movies to be filmed in Central Otago.

''I think it is a really exciting initiative and it ill be good if we can get Central Otago linked to it,'' he said.

-By Yvonne O'Hara

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