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International Relations

Globe Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash
The International Relations program works to strengthen Portland's global diplomatic, economic, cultural, and educational ties through partnerships with governmental, non-profit, and business institutions.
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Contact Us

If you have questions about Portland's International Relations program, or you would like to volunteer for one of the sister city associations, please contact Chido Dhliwayo, International Relations Director, 503-823-4130 or

Portland's Sister Cities & Friendship City

More information about Portland's Sister Cities can be found at Portland Sister Cities Coalition.

2020 Letters from Portland City Council to Sister Cities Regarding COVID-19

More about Portland's Sister & Friendship Cities 

Portland has nine sister cities and one friendship city. Our oldest relationship is with Sapporo, Japan, since 1959. Under the leadership of Mayor Bud Clark, Portland gained seven more sister cities: Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1983; Ulsan, South Korea, and Ashkelon, Israel, in 1987; Suzhou, China, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and Khabarovsk, Russia, in 1988; and Mutare, Zimbabwe, in 1991. City leaders George Passadore, Jim Francesconi, and Joe D'Alessandro joined Italian Honorary Italian Vice Consul Andrea Bartoloni to establish the Bologna, Italy sister city relationship in 2003. In 2022, the Portland City Council voted to designate Lviv, Ukraine, as a friendship city.

The process of becoming a sister city is established in City Code. First, there must be an established non-profit organization made up of Portland citizens who pledge to keep a relationship active. The committee must be prepared to “undertake the financial and staffing requirements necessary to properly administer such a relationship.”

As far as the financial requirements, each non-profit must maintain at least a $10,000 balance in its bank account on a regular basis. Once an association obtains either friendship status or sister city status, the association must submit financial reports to the Director of International Relations on a regular basis. The city ordinance requires sister city associations to be both financially independent of and accountable to the Mayor of Portland. All sister city association programs are funded by donors and grants, not by the City of Portland. 

As far as the staffing requirements, the association should conduct regular meetings and events in the Portland area throughout the year. 

Once an association has been a friendship city for at least a year and maintains both the staffing and financial requirements, Portland City Council will vote on changing its status from a friendship city relationship to a sister city relationship.

The Director of International Relations works in the Office of Government Relations and is the liaison between the sister city and friendship city associations and the City Council. 

Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association Peace Bell Rededication Ceremony, 2019

Mayor Wheeler speaking at podium on stage.

2019 marked the 60th sister city relationship anniversary between Portland and Sapporo - this connection is Portland's longest-running sister city relationship and one of the oldest in the United States. As part of the Oregon Convention Center plaza and interior renovation project, the Sapporo "Peace Bell" that was gifted to Portland by Sapporo 31 years ago was rededicated at a celebration hosted by the Oregon Convention Center on June 6, 2019. Attended by over 90 delegates from Sapporo, led by Mayor Akimoto, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Sapporo, Japan Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto expressed their continued commitment to strengthening the historic and productive relationship shared between both cities.

Cowlitz members playing drum and singing at Sapporo Bell rededication event.

Japan is Oregon's 5th-largest export market and in the span of six decades thriving partnerships along culture, education and business have blossomed through our sister city relationship. In the spirit of inclusion and acknowledgement, the theme for the 60th Anniversary between the two sister cities was centered on the Indigenous People who first lived in the Portland and Hokkaido region. "Like the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, the Ainu peoples of Hokkaido share commonalities which are embedded in the history of both of our cities, reminding us that the Pacific Ocean acts not as a barrier but a bridge between our two countries," said Mayor Ted Wheeler, following a land acknowledgement that was provided by Cowlitz spiritual leader Tanna Engdahl, and land protocols by canoe families from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Chinook Nation Tribal Communities of the region.

2019 Oregon Consular Corps Celebrates Trade

Each year, the Oregon Consular Corps, the Port of Portland, the City of Portland, and the State of Oregon, along with our esteemed associates in international trade and business, host an event as part of Oregon's World Trade Week. "Celebrate Trade" recognizes private sector companies, organizations and individuals that have made a significant contribution to Oregon's standing as a leader in international trade and investment and their ability to create family wage jobs. 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of the event which took place during World Trade Week and Mayor Ted Wheeler made an appearance to recognize some of the region's best businesses operating in international markets. The gala highlights the significant contribution that Oregon's trade-sector companies make to our region's economic vitality and quality of life. With 90 percent of the world's consumers living outside of the United States, the next generation of business and community leaders will increasingly need international relations and language skills, cultural awareness and an ability to grasp the opportunities and challenges of a global economy. The evening gala also raises funds to students from Lewis & Clark College, Oregon State University, Portland State University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Portland. These funds allow Oregon's next generation of leaders to study abroad, gain international experience and expand their own cultural competence as they prepare to enter an increasingly global workplace. 

Photo of Mayor Wheeler at the Celebrate Trade Gala in 2019
Photo of Mayor Wheeler at the Celebrate Trade Gala in 2019