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Southern mayors look to China for investment

 


Southland District mayor Gary Tong.

ROBYN EDIE

Southland District mayor Gary Tong.

Southern mayors have visited China seeking economic investment for the region but any benefits have yet to be fully realised.

Southland district mayor Gary Tong released a report into his dealings with Chinese businessman Yikun Zhang and the Chao Shan Association this week, but both Gore district mayor Tracy Hicks and Clutha district mayor Bryan Cadogan have also visited China, although not both in an official capacity.

Hicks travelled to China in November 2017 to attend the Chinese Enterprises Outbound Investment Conference.

Gore district mayor Tracy Hicks.

John Hawkins

Gore district mayor Tracy Hicks.

He travelled as part of a New Zealand local government and business delegation at the invitation of the China Council for Promotion of International Trade and Changsha Municipal Government.

READ MORE:
* Mayor Gary Tong reports to councillors on China dealings
* Southland mayor Gary Tong in China with businessman at the centre of National Party allegations
* Gore Mayor returns from China
* Southland District mayor Gary Tong going to China to help bring visitors to Southland

The council met the cost of a return domestic fare amounting to $408, and all other costs were met by the Chinese hosts.

The visit to China provided an opportunity to learn about potential business and community connections, and trade opportunities.

Hicks also met with the principals of Mataura Valley Milk, which the council says was timely as the company’s plant was in the early phases of development.

The council said its relationship with Chinese-backed Mataura Valley Milk, which opened an infant milk formula manufacturing plant at McNab last year, was now the same as any large industry and employer in the district.

When Hicks returned, he told Stuff he used the visit to promote the Gore district to Chinese investors, and he said meetings were positive and there was “a lot to follow up on.” 

This week, the council said it was not currently engaged in discussions with any Chinese companies regarding business opportunities in the district.

The Invercargill City Council did not respond to questions about mayor Sir Tim Shadbolts’ overseas travel before deadline.

Clutha district mayor Bryan Cadogan has also visited China, but he said it was a private trip he and his wife took to visit his daughter who lives there.

Clutha District Council chief executive Steve Hill said the council was not pursuing any Chinese investment in the district.

Tong, who has been to China twice, has been involved in a number of formal and informal meetings with Zhang since 2016.

The Chao Shan Association represents Chinese immigrants who have settled in New Zealand and are doing business in the country.

Rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross claimed Yikun Zhang made a $100,000 donation to the National Party.

In November 2014, Local Government New Zealand entered into an agreement to establish a mechanism of exchange and cooperation of mayors of New Zealand and China with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.



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