Ipswich City Council has spent about $30,000 on international relations over the past three years, attracting interest in its education, manufacturing, tourism, technology, smart city solutions and waste management sectors.
The significant majority of this amount was spent on the most recent civic and business mission to Japan and Taiwan, supported by Trade and Investment Queensland.
CEO David Farmer and General Manager of Community, Cultural and Economic Development Ben Pole travelled to Japan and Taiwan in November to strengthen economic and cultural ties with businesses.
The relationship with Nerima City, Japan is the most active, with the recent trip celebrating 25 years of international relations between the two cities.
Mr Pole said the engagement with Nerima City includes annual visits by students and officials to Ipswich with some Ipswich schools also sending students to Nerima of their own accord.
“Of course the Nerima Gardens and Tea House in Queens Park, Ipswich, is another positive outcome of the relationship. And Nerima City coordinated fundraising support during the 2011 Ipswich Floods with proceeds going directly to the Ipswich Flood Appeal,” he said.
Council has eight formal international agreements:
• Nerima City – Japan
• Nantou County – Taiwan
• City of Hyderabad, India
• Hsinchu Hsien, Taiwan
• Pengzhou, Sichuan Province, China
• Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, China
• Chengde City Hunan Province, China
• Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China
While council’s international relations activity is focused on promoting export and investment, in priority Ipswich industries including manufacturing, agribusiness, tourism and smart city solutions, these sister city/region-to-region agreements are very much exercises in civic, cultural and educational engagement.
Returning to Ipswich, Mr Farmer said the meetings directly with businesses in Japan had been productive with some potential proof-of-concept technology projects identified, with some possibly implemented before June 2020.
“We’ve been impressed by the level of awareness these major corporations have of Ipswich – particularly our massive population growth, advanced manufacturing capabilities and smart city initiatives,” he said at the time.
“Also some in principle agreements with two cities – Nerima and Nantou – to increase student numbers and potentially teacher training in Ipswich.”
Mr Farmer and Mr Pole also had several meetings with manufacturing, technology and smart city solution companies in Taiwan.
Mr Farmer said with population projections showing Ipswich will have 200,000 more residents over the next 30 years, it was important to attract the right type of investment to meet employment demands.
The trip had helped to ensure Ipswich was well understood and positioned in international markets, including international education, manufacturing, tourism, technology, smart city solutions and waste management.
“It appears we’ve got some quite serious leads on developing serious opportunities both for our community but also from a business perspective,” Mr Farmer said.