Auckland’s links to China were reinforced on Saturday with the signing of a statement of co-operation between the Beijing Investment Promotion Board (BIPB) and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
The agreement marks the beginning of a formal relationship between the two agencies, to encourage investment in Auckland businesses and trade.
ATEED chief executive Brett O’Reilly signed on behalf of Auckland and said the potential benefits are significant, although they will only be realised through action and hard work.
“We will be working together to exchange investment information, link key businesspeople and investors from the two cities and pave the way for some real impacts on Auckland’s economy.
“The measure of success will be the value of deals done and numbers of businesses establishing in each other’s cities,” he said, noting that China had hundreds of millions to invest in infrastructure and firms.
O’Reilly cited New Zealand’s free trade agreement with China and mayor Len Brown’s delegation visit to Beijing as catalysts for the agreement.
Said Brown: “I’m thrilled our visit has directly and rapidly resulted in closer links as we work to realise Auckland’s potential as an international city. A close link between our cities’ economic development agencies is a significant outcome."
The Icehouse chief executive Andy Hamilton, who was on Brown’s mission to China, sees the agreement as a meaningful step forward in accessing potential investors.
“This type of collaboration is hugely valuable if we are to attract investment to Auckland businesses from the all-important Chinese market. This agreement has the potential to pay real dividends.”
BIPB deputy director Shui Yong said the agency was particularly interested in the cleantech and food biotechnology sectors.
In response to critics who feared Chinese investment dollars, O’Reilly said there was minimal chances of Auckland businesses moving offshore because of Chinese capital injections.
“Chinese investors are less concerned with Kiwi companies relocating to China, they are happy for them to operate from Auckland. When I led a trade mission to China with Steven Joyce in 2010, we found that the Chinese see New Zealand firms are inventive, innovative and want to invest in that ingenuity,” he said.
“We are looking for smart capital, not just the dollars. We want investment with connections that can help kiwi firms leverage and grow in China and the world.”