A $35 million cold store facility at East Arm might be the first project developed through the Territory’s relationship with the Shandong province in China.
Shandong is the region Landbridge Group, lessee of Darwin Port, is based.
Landbridge chairman Ye Cheng was part of a 17-man high-level delegation which included the Mayor of Rizhao, Liu Xingtai, who are in Darwin.
Also in the group is the general manager of Rizhao Tianze Cold Chain Logistics, Zheng Qiang, who are looking at the coldstores project here in Darwin.
Chief Minister Adam Giles, Deputy Chief Minister Peter Styles and various department heads including Ken Davies from Education, Michael Tennant from Business and Mines chief executive Ron Kelly were involved in the meeting.
“Already on the table is investors wanting to invest in improved cold store facilities and improved cruise ship facilities,” Mr Giles said.
“In October, we have agreed to send a large NT delegation to Rizhao where there will be an investment forum and at that meeting I will be seeking to sign an agreement to specify what investments will be coming to the Territory including cold store.”
The meeting is a follow-up from an agreement signed between Rizhao and Darwin to enhance trade and investment.
Mr Giles denied the lack of an air link direct to China was a handbrake to the developing relationship.
“It is somewhat a chicken and egg,” he said. “You need an air link to make business easier as we’ve just seen with the delegation taking 30 hours to get here when it could’ve been a five or six-hour direct flight.
“So the air link can help building business to business ties and it can help in the tourist market.”
Mr Giles said part of the attraction of Landbridge leasing the port was the opportunity to leverage their corporate connections in Shandong.
“Their interest is for exports from Northern Australia to flow from Darwin to Rizhao to the benefit of both cities,” he said. The meeting is also discussing investments in agribusiness, tourism and mining.