On Tuesday, September 9th, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and the Ningbo Municipal Government hosted a conference to discuss the partnership and economic ties between Milwaukee and its sister city, Ningbo. Several neighboring cities were represented as prime locations for investment as well. City leaders and officials from Ningbo spoke on various topics in an effort to promote educational exchanges and cooperation among educational institutions and to encourage Americans to do business with China.
Ningbo’s Vice Mayor, Mr. Wang Jianhou, Mr. Zhao Weiping, Chinese Consul General, Chicago, and Milwaukee’s Mayor, Tom Barrett, all opened the conference with welcoming remarks. Following the conference introduction, Mr. Yu Danhua, Director General of Ningbo’s Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau, along with representatives from Cixi City, Yuyao City, Jiangbei District, and Zhenhai District, shared many impressive facts about each respective city. Annual growth rates of industrial production, GDP stats, key industries for exports, development potential, what to expect when investing in the aforementioned cities/markets, foreign investment trends, and average operational costs were covered by the speakers.
Following an introduction to Milwaukee and its business environment by MMAC’s President, Tim Sheehy, a panel discussion opened up, moderated by Ulice Payne, also representing MMAC. The discussion panel consisted of: Mr. Fanfu Li, Vice President of Business Development of Acuant Corp, Mr. Jon Giuliani, Vice President of International Sales of Rite-Hite Corp, and finally, Mr. Dan Willems, Vice President and General Manager of Spancrete. They answered questions about concerns Americans may have regarding copyright infringement when doing business in China and information on the Labor Law and Labor Contract Law—major laws that regulate the labor relationship China has with foreign-invested enterprises.
Mr. Yu Danhua, the Director General of Ningbo, presented an interesting case analysis on the increasingly consummated industrial infrastructures and effective government services provided by Chinese cities, particularly in the case of Shanghai Volkswagen, which produces an annual output of 600,000 passenger cars. This example showed the rapid and favorable development trend happening throughout China, along with market stability.
Many of the Chinese officials who came to Milwaukee to attend the conference had one main purpose in mind: to seek out suitable foreign partners for potential cooperation. Connections were made and representative from both American and Chinese companies exchanged information, ideas, and stories of their experience in foreign investment. FirstPathway Partners was proud to have Bob Kraft, Chairman and CEO of FPP, featured as one of the pioneers in bridging the connection between Milwaukee and Ningbo and encouraging and promoting business with China.