A delegation of 105 people, including businesses interested in investing in Chicago, senior Ministry of Commerce officials, and senior officials from eight Chinese cities recently visited Chicago. The trip was part of the Gateway Cities Agreement signed by Mayor Emanuel and the Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao in December 2013. The delegation, led by the Chinese Assistant Minister of Commerce, Zhang Xiangchen, was sent by Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng as a reciprocal trip to Mayor Emanuel’s 2013 visit to Beijing.
The Gateway Cities Agreement is the first signed by China’s Ministry of Commerce with a city. The agreement links Chicago with eight Chinese cities – Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin, and Wuhan – as gateway points for investment into their respective countries. The agreement intends to expand trade/investment cooperation, strengthen communication, enhance trust, boost economic development, and create jobs. Economic collaboration will focus on seven key sectors: manufacturing, tourism, finance and insurance, professional services, wholesale and retail, transportation and logistics, and infrastructure.
Total trade between the Chicago area and China amounted to $31.4 billion in 2013. There are 50+ mainland Chinese-owned companies in greater Chicago and an estimated 150+ Chicago-area companies with locations in mainland China. World Business Chicago (WBC) established Chicago’s first business development representative outside the U.S. in Shanghai in 2007, and Chicago shares sister cities relationships with both Shanghai and Shenyang.
While in Chicago, officials toured the city (including infrastructure investment sites and 1871, a technology incubator in River North), participated in networking and economic development forums, and attended a luncheon with Mayor Emanuel.
Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, currently being implemented by WBC, calls for the Chicago region to be the location of choice for headquarters of U.S., North American, and emerging global companies, and the place where cutting-edge business services are being developed and provided.
Andrew Spinelli has been hired as Director for China Strategic Initiatives to manage the implementation of the Gateway Cities Agreement and further develop the City’s relationship with China. Spinelli is WBC’s first Chicago-based leader hired to focus on enhancing the relationship between Chicago and another country. His background includes three years in the Emanuel Administration’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and Global Affairs, as well as experience in Washington, DC.