Marlborough Mayor John Leggett is travelling to China today, leading a small delegation of business and education representatives to its major wine region, Ningxia.
Last year Marlborough and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region signed a sister-region agreement to build a business relationship centred on their mutual grape growing and winemaking industry.
Marlborough produces about 80% of New Zealand’s wine exports while Ningxia’s new but rapidly developing industry is already the world’s fifth largest wine region.
With contrasting climates the regions grow different varieties and technology and training opportunities are the focus of Marlborough’s interest in Ningxia. There have already been some sales of oenology equipment to Ningxia by Marlborough businesses.
Mr Leggett says one of the aims of this visit is to encourage the Ningxia Government to support an expansion of the numbers of Ningxia students travelling to Marlborough to study at secondary schools and the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.
“The advice is that personal contact at official levels is necessary to open doors to education and business opportunities so this visit is focussed on building that relationship,” said Mr Leggett.
He will meet officials from the Ningxia District’s Education Department, Ningxia University and Ningxia Normal University, the District’s Science and Technology Institute and its Wine Industry Bureau.
The Mayor will also renew his acquaintance with Ms Xian Hui, Governor of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, with whom he signed the sister-region agreement last September.
Also on the itinerary is a call to the Yu Ge Winery, a joint venture between Marlborough and Ningxia.
The Ningxia government is hosting the three-day visit.