Governor Pat Quinn today departed on an economic and jobs trip to Brussels, Belgium where he will seek to expand Illinois trade, tourism and business opportunities. In addition to participating in several events organized by NATO in advance of this spring's summit in Chicago, the Governor will address a trade conference sponsored by the European Union (EU) to strengthen ties between Illinois and Europe. He will also host a business roundtable with current Belgium businesses that invest in Illinois, potential investors, and business leaders and associations.
The trip builds upon Governor Quinn's aggressive goal to double exports by the end of 2014, and is the first gubernatorial trade mission to Europe in 13 years.
"We want the world to know that their trip to America starts in Illinois," Governor Quinn said. "We'll showcase Illinois' tremendous economic assets before an international audience and we'll bring back more trade opportunities, tourism and business investment to Illinois."
Governor Quinn will begin his visit by opening the Chicago Exhibit at the NATO Headquarters to promote Illinois to the world in advance of the NATO summit being held in Chicago May 20-21. Later that day, he will deliver remarks at the EU Transatlantic Conference, hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, where he will focus on opportunities to grow European Union and Illinois trade. Governor Quinn is committed to expanding Illinois' international trade and helping businesses bring more products to global markets.
In front of the conference featuring high-level officials from the EU and the private sector, the governor will discuss the benefits of increasing trade with Illinois and the key role exports play in economic growth. Other keynote speakers at the event include EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, Head of the European Union Delegation to the United States. The EU is an economic and political partnership between 27 European countries.
Also during his visit to the European capital, the Governor will host a business roundtable, where he will sit down with current Belgian investors, potential investors, and business leaders and associations from Belgium and Europe to discuss opportunities to increase investment in Illinois. He will conclude the day with a dinner hosted by the U.S. ambassador to NATO where he will encourage attendees to come to Illinois in advance of the NATO meeting in May and stay late to explore our state's many visitor attractions.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and Europe, where representatives from 27 EU member states reside. In addition, the city is home to the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament. Significant decisions on trade and investment are made in Brussels, and working groups such as the TABD (Transatlantic Business Dialogue) and TEC (Transatlantic Economic Council) are both extremely active in the city.
The European Union and Belgium are both key trading partners for Illinois. Illinois was the first U.S. state to establish a foreign office in Brussels 44 years ago in 1968. In 2011, Illinois exports to the EU grew by over 27 percent, totaling nearly $11.5 billion. Belgium is Illinois' ninth largest trading partner, receiving more than $1.65 billion worth of Illinois exports in 2011, a 42.7 percent increase over 2010. Top industries include industrial machinery, vehicles and chemical products.
European companies' investments in Illinois are the largest from any region in the world, with countries such as the U.K., Germany and France serving as top investors. Countries within the European Union have 723 firms with 3,476 locations in Illinois, employing more than 183,137 Illinoisans. Some of those companies include Siemans Industry, T-Mobile USA, Deutsch Bank, Philips Electronics, Chrysler-FIAT SPA and Volvo Group of North America to name a few.
More information about Illinois trade and business opportunities can be found on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's website at www.illinoisbiz.biz.