The City of New Westminster is planning to send a delegation to China this fall on a business trip.
City council has approved a recommendation from the city's international relations committee to send a business delegation to China in 2012. In 2009, a 10-person delegation visited sister cities in Lijiang, China and Moriguchi, Japan.
A staff report states that the City of New Westminster is currently considering a number of business proposals from Friendship Cities in China that would enhance the relationships between New Westminster and China and would bring additional development to the Royal City.
The Friendship City of Yunfu is interested in setting up a large warehousing facility in the city to accommodate the storage of rock materials coming by ship from the Yunfu to the North American market; Linkfair Stainless Steel, which is a company located in the City of Xinxing (a part of greater Yunfu), is interested in establishing a showroom and a retail outlet in New Westminster that would provide access to the Western Canadian market; and the Sister City of Lijiang and the City of Kunming are interested in a proposal to create an international meeting place in New Westminster - known as China House - that would provide meeting rooms, a small showroom, a boutique hotel and a restaurant for visitors from around the world to use when doing business in Greater Vancouver.
"Also, a number of investors have indicated interest in building a facility that would encompass this concept in a central location in New Westminster," said a staff report. "In order to address this economic development opportunity for the city, further meetings with the proponents will be required. A number of delegations have come to New Westminster however, to further these negotiations, it is necessary for city representatives to address them directly with counterparts in China."
Mayor Wayne Wright expects the trip to be extremely valuable to New Westminster - or else it wouldn't be done.
"I have never taken a trip that I have had it as a lark," he said. "It's a business trip."
One of the stops on this year's trip will be the China (Yunfu) International Stone Materials Science and Technology Fair. The fair's website states that Yunfu is a municipality with abundance of natural resources and Yunfu is one of the three major stone-processing bases in China.
Yunfu has expressed an interest in supplying some of the stone materials for the city's future civic centre.
"We are looking at that very seriously," said city administrator Paul Daminato. "We had a delegation from Yunfu come a couple weeks ago and talk to us about this. We are in the process of looking at samples."
Daminato said suppliers and buyers of stone from all over the world attend the fair held in Yunfu.
Wright said the trip won't be a relaxing getaway, but will be filled with meetings aimed at creating business opportunities between New Westminster and cities in China. He noted that representatives from Xinxing have visited New Westminster twice in the past six months about opportunities for their stainless steel industry.
While details of the trip are still being finalized, it's expected to include visits to Dongcheng District of Beijing, the City of Zhenjiang (in Jiangsu Province), the City of Yunfu (in Guangdong Province), the City of Lijiang (in Yunnan Province), and the City of Kunming (in Yunnan Province).
Daminato said decisions about who will be taking part in the business trip and the itinerary will be finalized in the coming weeks.
He said the city includes a line item in the budget each year for activities related to sister city relationships.
"I don't think there has been a final decision about who is going or how many are going," Daminato said.
According to a staff report, it's estimated the trip will cost about $2,500 per person, as some of the costs are covered by the host cities. In addition to the mayor, the delegation could include some members of city council, senior staff and members of the sister city committee.
"These delegation visits serve to strengthen ties between our cities and further assist the City of New Westminster with the exchange of ideas, personnel and culture," said the staff report. "Tourism is also significantly impacted by these visits as more awareness of what New Westminster offers visitors is exchanged with the tourism counterparts in all relationship cities."