International relations with China could be stepped up a gear locally with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council considering a ‘Sister Cities’ arrangement.
The council’s enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee on Monday will look at the findings of the last meeting of the International Relations Forum and consider what to do next.
As part of that, it is being recommended that NMD Council increase its activities with China.
The council established an International Relations Strategy late last year. The idea is that council can “best focus its resources on those opportunities that will provide the greatest return on investment”. It set out a framework to “select and assess priority markets”.
The recommendation to committee is that the council “progress opportunities to strengthen the relationship” between the Newry, Mourne and Down District and China and facilitate “international exchanges for purposes of economic and trade growth, investment, education/skills growth and growth of the tourism industry”.
The council will be asked to approve the participation in a Northern Ireland Innovation Mission China, with Invest NI, NI Bureau, other local councils, college and universities.
The council may provide a series of ‘Spotlight on China Business Workshops’ at local level, promoting trade opportunities.
And it would also discuss further with the NI Bureau in China and look at upgrading a ‘friendship agreement’ with Changchun – the capital of Jilin Province – with a view to becoming full ‘Sister Cities’.
Council would also renew for a further year a memorandum of understanding with the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster for support in China.
All of the proposals will be considered at the committee meeting on Monday and any recommendations to go before full council early in April for final decision.