Just before the start of the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois exports rose more than 17 percent in the first quarter of 2012 to its highest point in more than a decade. The announcement also follows the successful reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, backed by Governor Quinn, to finance exports for hundreds of Illinois companies. These developments keep the state on track to meet the Governor's aggressive goal of doubling exports by 2014.
During the NATO Summit, Governor Quinn will also meet with world leaders to bolster trade relations for Illinois.
"We want to welcome the world to Illinois and continue to make more of our goods and services available around the globe," Governor Quinn said. "Illinois' long-term economic growth depends on our ability to compete in the global economy. These latest export numbers prove that our work to create jobs and grow our economy is paying off."
Illinois continues to rank first in the Midwest for exports and foreign direct investment and was the sixth largest U.S. exporting state in 2011.
During the 2012 NATO summit, Governor Quinn will work to increase trade opportunities with visiting nations and meet with several heads of state to bolster Illinois' international relations. Expanding global trade partnerships is critical to Illinois' continued economic growth. In the first quarter of 2012, Illinois exports grew to $17.2 billion -- up from $14.7 billion in the same time period last year - representing the state's highest quarterly export figure in more than a decade. A rise in sales of industrial machinery, petroleum and coal products, autos and auto parts, and chemicals fueled the gains. Additionally, emerging markets, including China and Brazil, purchased Illinois products to construct roads and factories.
"Exports are a key growth engine for the state. We are focused on making sure Illinois competes with the world by developing long-term strategies to target emerging markets and new business opportunities," Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director David Vaught said. "Illinois is well positioned to take advantage of the national rise in exports as our state has the airports, major train lines and interstate highways to make it easy to move goods from factories to international markets."
In 2011, Governor Quinn announced an aggressive plan to double Illinois exports by the end of 2014. To help reach that goal, the Governor established the Illinois Export Advisory Council earlier this year. The Council, chaired by Navistar Chairman and CEO Daniel C. Ustian, is working to increase exports by providing recommendations on the state and federal policies and programs. The Council consists of 21 top Illinois CEOs and private sector leaders that drive international trade for Illinois.
Governor Quinn also applauded recent Congressional action to reauthorize funding for the U.S. Export-Import Bank and raise the limit on the bank's loan portfolio. In recent months, the Governor and the Export Advisory Council have urged Congress to pass a four-year reauthorization of funding for the bank, which has financed exports since the Depression. Without Congressional action, the bank faced the possibility of shutting down by the end of this month when its legal authorization was set to expire. Over the past five years, the Export-Import bank has assisted more than 280 Illinois companies, 67 percent of which are the small- and medium-sized businesses that are crucial to Illinois' economic growth.
The NATO Summit is expected to provide an additional economic boost as visitors and leaders from around the world visit and patronize Chicago businesses. The European Union is one of Illinois' key trading partners. 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.
Governor Quinn is committed to showcasing Illinois on the world stage and recruiting new business to our state. The Governor recently traveled to Washington D.C. where he met with Brazil President Rousseff and nine governors from Brazil to focus on trade relations. The Governor will also lead a trade mission to Brazil later this year.
In March, Governor Quinn traveled to Belgium on an economic trade mission where he met with key business and economic leaders from countries within the European Union, which has resulted in a global corporate headquarters' move to Illinois. Also in March, Governor Quinn attended the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) trade show, which is the leading foodservices and hospitality event in Canada, to promote Illinois' foodservices industry, as well as tourism and life sciences industries. The Governor led a trade mission to China last fall that resulted in $370 million in new business agreements for Illinois-based companies.
Illinois unemployment rate dropped to 8.7 percent, marking eight consecutive months of falling unemployment and the lowest rate in three years. Over the last three months, Illinois has averaged approximately 6,300 new jobs each month. Illinois' job picture shows a growing economy, in part because of rising exports.
Export figures are based on U.S. Census Bureau data provided by the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research, an international trade data center. 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.