Launceston embraces first sister city relationship in decades

Launceston City Council has agreed to sign a sister city agreement for the first time in more than 20 years.

Discussions started with a delegation from Putian, China, three years ago, culminating in the move to enhance and deepen the mutual friendship. 

It could mean the promotion of importing and exporting of wine, wool and woolen products, and aquatic products including abalone.

On Monday, council aldermen voted to sign the Friendship City Agreement, which will be valid for five years, when a Putian delegation visits in late August.

The decision could see the establishment of ‘Tasmania Week’ in Fujian and ‘Fujian Week’ in Launceston, even delving in Launceston and Putian food week in the respective sister cities.

Located in the province of Fujian, Putian has a population of 376,558 with tourism and shoe manufacturing two of its major industries.

Signing the agreement meant two of Launceston’s soon-to-be four sister cities will be in China.

Time in Putian, China

Napa in the United States, Ikeda in Japan and Taiyuan in China are its other sister cities, of which five aldermen will visit Ikeda in October to celebrate 50 years of the sister city relationship.

City of Launceston General Manager Robert Dobrzynski said the council has been very focused on the benefits it can deliver to the community from these relationships.

That included what benefits Launceston producers could avail themselves of with its sister cities, he said.

"Sister cities create a strong platform for exchange of cultures and learnings, for example through student exchanges, which is an important aspect of growing future leaders,” Mr Dobrzynski said.

"The Council sees strong opportunity for innovation partnerships as Launceston continues to establish itself as an innovative and technologically advanced city with the most extensive NBN rollout in the nation.

“We do know that sister city relationships certainly help to promote Launceston and Tasmania to a wider audience in our sister cities, and to highlight our tourism, lifestyle and economic offerings to new audiences."

He did not put an estimate on the financial benefit of sister city relationships as it was not why they were “traditionally formed”

How are sister cities chosen?

Mr Dobrzynski said various criteria have considered when Launceston set up its existing sister cities relationships, which generally focused on cultural, trade, commerce and educational exchange opportunities.

However, that changed in 2015 when the City of Launceston voted to adopted four criteria, which must all be met.

These include:

  • Existing Australian and state government relationships, or agreements, which can be further leveraged for mutual benefit.
  • Demonstrable and significant economic and cultural opportunity.
  • Leverages Launceston City's role as a regional service centre.
  • Ability of the council to allocate adequate resources to service engagement and relationships.