Bendigo has strengthened its bond with its sister city in China, with an agreement that will see increased communication and trade.
Bendigo Business Council chief executive officer Leah Sertori and Haimen Chamber of Commerce chairman Yu Bin have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to “promote common prosperity and development.”
Ms Sertori said the agreement was a “big step forward” in opening up market opportunities within central Victoria.
"Haimen is a city of one million people with a Gross Regional Product of $150 billion RMB, or $30 billion AUS,” she said.
"Strong opportunities exist now to grow central Victoria's exports in meat, diary, grain, fruit and vegetables.
"Once back in Australia the BBC, Central Victorian Agribusiness Forum, Committee for Greater Shepparton and Echuca Moama will work with ANZ to engage export-oriented business in hands-on workshops to bring this to life.”
Ms Sertori is part of a delegation of central Victorian business and community leaders visiting China, which include representatives from the Committee for Greater Shepparton, Committee for Echuca Moama and Central Victorian Agribusiness Forum, and City of Greater Bendigo.
She said the demand for Australian produce in China was so large that, in order to participate, central Victoria would need to provide large volumes of product.
Central Victorian Agribusiness Forum and Committee for Echuca Moama representative Martin Szakal said there was an opportunity for Bendigo, Shepparton, Echuca Moama and others to collaborate to meet the demand.
The central Victorian MOU builds on an agreement signed by the state government and Jiangsu Provence in 2015, which has anchored more than $11.6 billion in Victorian Food and Fibre export to China.
"We have taken a targeted approach to further building trade links through our valuable relationship with Haimen," Mr Szakal said.
Haimen and Bendigo signed their Sister City Agreement in 2015.
Hundreds of students from Bendigo South East College and Bendigo Senior Secondary College have visited Haimen, which Ms Sertori said had further strengthened the important relationship.
Haimen is one of Bendigo’s three sister cities, the others being Los Altos, in California, and Penzance, in England.