Ref: PR 8271
Wakefield Council is set to lead a trade delegation to China next month (15 July).
Wakefield first visited Xiangyang City, within the Hubei Province of China, in 2012 and were joined by a number of local businesses. Xiangyang has a similar economic profile to Wakefield, but on a much larger scale and there has been an ongoing dialog between the two cities for four years.
The delegation, which includes representatives from Wakefield College and businesses such as, Double Two, Backstage Academy, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Tileyard, the new investor in Wakefield's Waterfront, intends to formalise its links with the area and create a Sister City Agreement.
This will be a significant step towards creating opportunities for local businesses and industry whilst further linking the two areas through education and culture. Representing the Council will be Council Leader, Cllr Peter Box CBE, and Chief Executive, Joanne Roney OBE.
Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "It is now more important than ever that we create international trade connections. This visit is an important opportunity for us to meet with key officials in China as part of our efforts to boost the local economy, bringing more jobs and investment into the district, and create strong links to education and culture.
"This type of agreement is fundamental to generating trade between our district and China and will help local businesses to access new markets, which as the impact of the EU Referendum becomes clearer, will be essential to our economic growth.
"Creating a Sister City agreement with Xiangyang will demonstrate an important commitment by both sides, secure existing relations and open new trade lines."
During the trip the delegation will meet with the Mayor Qin Jun of Xiangyang as well as the Reform Commission, Commerce Bureau, Bureau of Education and other private sector businesses.
The Xiangyang area was chosen due to the potential benefits and opportunities for local companies and institutions. Located in central China, with a population of around 6 million, Xiangyang has highly developed infrastructure and feeds larger economies such as Shanghai and Beijing, referred to as the "strategic passage to the North and South". They have been able to unlock significant growth in key industries such as manufacturing and high tech with over 300 scientific institutes all built on a traditional coal mining history.
There are many parallels that can be drawn between the two districts and potential opportunities for both sides in working closer in the future.
Wakefield Council is working with the Government body in Xiangyang to cover the cost of the delegated visit, and private sector representatives will contribute toward their own arrangements.