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Melbourne City strengthens business ties with Tianjin
Published on: 2011-01-10
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A MELBOURNE Council-appointed business delegation is expected to travel to sister city Tianjin once every two years, as councillor Carl Jetter said more could have been done in the past to boost business ties.

Councillors Jetter, Kevin Louey, Ken Ong and Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley visited the Chinese city in October to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the relationship.

A report on the trip - which cost ratepayers more than $80,000 - was presented at the December 21 council meeting, with a motion passed to endorse a biennial business mission program.

The first business delegation is set to visit Tianjin in 2012. The costs of the trips are still to be determined.

Cr Jetter said the initiative was in direct response to a request from business representatives who accompanied the four councillors on the October trip.

The business program plans to highlight Melbourne’s capabilities and focus on areas of shared interest in Melbourne and Tianjin, including urban design, education and tourism.

Former Lord Mayor Kevin Chamberlin, part of the original delegation to Tianjin last decade, said he was concerned cultural aspects of the relationship had fallen off the agenda amid the strong business push.

He also raised concerns about Tianjin’s refusal - as reported by the Leader last May - to establish an office in Melbourne. But Cr Jetter rejected the criticism, saying it was vital to improve business links with China.

"It’s always been a good business relationship, but over the last 10 years the City of Melbourne hasn’t been good enough in promoting the benefits of this relationship,” he said.

Cr Jetter said Tianjin preferred to send people to Melbourne rather than have a permanent office based here.

"I personally believe the city of Tianjin has spent far more money on our relationship than we have,” he said.

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