Governor Pat Quinn will lead a trade mission to Mexico April 3 - 6 to spur economic opportunities and tourism between Illinois and Mexico. With Illinois already leading the Midwest in exports, the mission will build on the success of Governor Quinn's agenda to aggressively pursue international trade and create jobs in Illinois. He will be Illinois' first governor to visit Mexico in 13 years and only the fourth U.S. governor to visit Mexico since 2005.
"This mission will strengthen the long-standing bridges between Illinois and Mexico - especially in agriculture, water technology, manufacturing and tourism - to help fuel our state's economic growth," Governor Quinn said. "Mexico's unique and storied culture has had a major impact on our state. Illinois is home to many small businesses of Mexican heritage and many employers that will benefit from increased trade with Mexico. This trade mission will help us capitalize on available economic opportunities that will drive our economy forward."
The three-day mission will include meetings with potential trade partners and Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture, an Illinois Tourism event and the signing of a Sister Lakes pact. Governor Quinn will meet with two state governors, and the mayors of Mexico City and Patzcuáro. The trip will be launched with a briefing by U.S. Ambassador Earl "Tony" Wayne, who was named by President Obama in 2011 after serving in Argentina and Afghanistan.
One of the main objectives of the trade mission is to open the burgeoning Mexican water technology market to Illinois companies engaged in wastewater treatment and pumping technologies. Governor Quinn and the delegation will meet officials from Mexico's National Water Commission (CONAGUA) to discuss the success of the Illinois Clean Water Initiative. Spearheaded by the governor, the initiative is a $1 billion project modernizing the state's drinking water and waste treatment facilities while creating thousands of local jobs. Mexico City faces water infrastructure challenges similar to many Illinois cities, including aging pipelines, overuse, contaminants and sinkholes.
The trade mission also aims to increase Illinois' exports to Mexico. Exports are a significant portion of Illinois' economy and Mexico is Illinois' second-largest trade partner, as state exports to the country reached $6.4 billion in 2012. From 2009 through 2012, Illinois exports overall increased by $26.4 billion, or 63 percent - well above the national average of 47 percent. Illinois exports that have experienced significant growth during 2012 include machinery, up 12.7 percent; plastics and rubber products, an increase of 12.2 percent; transportation equipment, a 10.3 percent increase; and electrical equipment, appliances and components, up 5.6 percent. Illinois is the fifth largest exporting state in the nation.
Mexico is among the world's leaders in corn, meat and poultry production, leading to high demand for the kinds of farm machinery made in Illinois. Agriculture and food production will be the focus of meetings with Mexico's agriculture secretary and undersecretary of foreign trade. The governor will also meet executives of Bimbo Bakeries, which owns Illinois' beloved Entenmann's Bakery. Culinary tastes in Mexico and the United States are increasingly similar, so the mission will allow Illinois food brands to promote their products in the Mexican market.
The state of Illinois maintains an office in Mexico City shared by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Department of Agriculture. These state agencies promote Illinois business and agricultural products and services to Mexico, which is Illinois' second largest export market. Illinois exports to Mexico in 2012 totaled $6.37 billion, and grew 34.1 percent in 2011 and 11.3 percent in 2012. Mexico is Illinois' third largest international market for inbound travel, contributing $103 million annually to the state's economy.
The governor will also pursue opportunities to expand Mexican tourism in Illinois. Mexico is Illinois' third-largest international market for in-bound travel with 100,000 visitors from Mexico arriving by plane alone each year, a number projected to grow 17 percent in the next four years. However, many Mexicans travel to Illinois to visit family and often do not take advantage of Illinois' diverse activities. The trade mission aims to increase Illinois' share of Mexican tourists visiting the United States and boost the length of their stay in Illinois.
Governor Quinn - who recently proclaimed "Benito Juárez Day" in Illinois to celebrate Juárez's birthday and ties to Abraham Lincoln - will participate in a solemn "Honor de Guardia" ceremony at Mexico City's Juárez Monument, and will lay wreaths at statues honoring Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He will also promote the migratory Monarch butterflies, who symbolize the long-standing relationship between Michoacán and Illinois and are the official insect of the state of Illinois.
Illinois and Mexico also have deep social ties. There are now 1.6 million persons in Illinois of Mexican origin, about one in eight Illinoisans. Mexico and Illinois have had a Sister-State relationship since 1990. Illinois and Mexico Sister-Cities include Chicago and Mexico City since 1997; Springfield and San Pedro since 1996; Highland Park and Puerto Vallarta since 2002; and Naperville and Patzcuáro since 2010.
The Mexico trade mission is the latest by Governor Quinn as he seeks to promote Illinois to a global audience. Past missions include China and Japan in 2011, and Canada and Brazil in 2012. The governor will head a delegation comprised of Illinois business leaders from such world-renowned Illinois firms as Motorola Solutions, Grundfos, Navistar and Gino's East. It also includes representatives of the Illinois Soybean Association and Illinois Manufacturers' Association, two cabinet members and Illinois Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero).
Members of the trip's delegation include representatives from:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Nalco - An Ecolab
U.S. - Mexico Chamber of Commerce Mid-America Chapter
Cabrera Capital Markets, LLC.
Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Illinois Department of Agriculture
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
PolyBrite International, Inc.
Illinois Manufacturer's Association
Tate and Lyle
Galaxy Environmental, Inc.
Evans Food Group
Fricold Heating and Cooling
Grundfos North America, Water Utility
In-Pipe Technology Company, Inc.
Illinois Soybean Association
Frantz Manufacturing Company
ADM (in-country participant)
Caterpillar (in-country participant)
United Airlines (in-country participant)