SISTER CITY: Bundaberg woman Jody Griffiths travelled to Nanning, China, where she captured this shot of the city.
SISTER CITY: Bundaberg woman Jody Griffiths travelled to Nanning, China, where she captured this shot of the city. Jody Griffiths

Council delegation headed to China and Japan

A DELEGATION from Bundaberg prepares to visit the sister cities in China and Japan next month.

The Bundaberg Regional Council delegation will cost about $20,000 to send five representatives to Japan and China for 10 days next month.

They will first travel to Chinese city Nanning after accepting an invitation to attend the 16th China-ASEAN Expo held from September 20 to 23, having previously attended last year's with a trade delegation.

The expo itself is sponsored by the Chinese government with the official aim of developing political trust and use political and diplomatic influences to improve trade and economy.

This delegation will be led by deputy mayor Bill Trevor and will include Cr Scott Rowleson, Cr Helen Blackburn, Cr Steve Cooper, as well as a council staff member, who aside from visiting Nanning are also expected to travel to Bundaberg's Japanese sister city, Settsu.

Cr Trevor said Australians might expect a business meeting with a handshake and a signed contract within a day, but this was not how business worked in China.

"Chinese businesses don't just work on figures, it works on trust and friendship," Cr Trevor said.

"It doesn't work like that, they like to meet look you in the eye. The relationship side is more important to them."

Cr Trevor said that as a result of delegations there should be investment opportunities announced for the area within 18 months.

Chinese businesses welcomed the investment potential as Australian products were seen as "clean, green, and affordable."

He said a report on the delegation will be submitted to council and released to the public, aside from some confidential business details.

Cr Helen Blackburn said the Chinese valued a relationship, but it was with the Bundaberg community they were trying to connect to.

"It's not with any councillor, it's with the Bundaberg people," she said.

"They see the council relationship as very important."

Cr Blackburn said she was part of last year's trade delegation to Nanning last year, and she learned that it had numerous sister cities which were recognised in a hall.

She said Chinese representatives considered Bundaberg to be the most important, and although she was uncertain why this was the case, believed it to be due to the similarities, such as both having a sugar industry.

Cr Cooper said a healthy relationship with China had benefits for Bundaberg farmers, production, and education.

It was important to maintain that trust considering the current volatility between China and the United States, which had the two biggest markets in the world.

"It's really in our interest to maintain that...we've got to be in good terms with them," Cr Cooper said.

"We're not part of that trade war."

He said the delegation would also visit Settsu to learn how Japan managed and used its waste products to make profit.

"We plan to look at major plants to get an insight of what is being done in Japan for an educational visit. There is no commitment," Cr Cooper said.

Cr Scott Rowleson said the relationship between the sister cities has lasted 21 years.

"Each delegation offers up new possibilities for growth, education, and tourism," Cr Rowleson said.

"As the portfolio spokesperson for waste, we will see technology that turns waste into energy and fuel.

"It will be educational to see this growing technology first hand."

The last trade delegation to Nanning was held a year ago, which came about to mark the 20th anniversary of the relationship between the Chinese city and Bundaberg, with wares represented from Macadamias Australia, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, and the Bargara Brewing Company.

However, two delegations from Nanning have visited Bundaberg this year.