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Gov. Quinn heading to Brussels: NATO Chicago Summit, Illinois trade

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WASHINGTON--Gov. Pat Quinn is heading to Belgium later this month--to help plug the May NATO summit in Chicago and to pitch Europeans on doing business in Illinois. Quinn is the first Illinois governor to travel to Europe in 14 years.

Chicago will be showcased during a "Summit Kickoff" for the May NATO summit at events to be held March 21 and 22 at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The dinners and exhibits are being planned by the Chicago Host Committee and the U.S. NATO mission, headed by Ivo Daalder, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Amy Rule, the wife of Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be part of the Chicago delegation going to Brussels--the first time she has taken on a major official role.

An Illinois trade office was opened in Belgium in 1968.

"Governor Quinn will be making a multi-purpose visit to Belgium to focus on trade, tourism and business investment. He will attend a full day of trade, tourism and business investment meetings, including 2 NATO events as part of our tourism agenda. The Governor sees NATO as a tremendous opportunity to promote Illinois to the world and wants to capitalize on it," Quinns' office said in statement.

The Chicago host committee is covering Quinn's travel expenses for the March 21-22 trip.

DETAILS ON what Quinn will be doing from his office and background on Illinois trade with Belgium.....

1: TOURISM: Governor Quinn will participate in two of NATO's events - the Opening of the Chicago Exhibit at NATO HQ in the morning and he will conclude the day with the NATO dinner at Truman Hall hosted by the US Ambassador to NATO. The Governor will encourage the global audience to visit Illinois in advance of NATO meeting in May.

2. TRADE: Governor Quinn will deliver remarks at a major EU trade conference on growing European Union and US trade hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce: The Renewed Transatlantic Agenda: Creating Growth for the Future taking place on March 22nd, 2012.


3. BUSINESS INVESTMENT: Later in the day, the Governor will head to the State's Western European trade office, which is based in Brussels, to conduct meetings and a business roundtable. He'll meet with current Belgian investors, potential investors and business leaders and associations from Belgium and Europe. (The focus here will be pursuing more investment from businesses that already do business in Illinois and recruiting new European direct investment in Illinois.)

BACKGROUND FROM QUINN'S OFFICE

More Facts about Illinois / Europe / Belgium trade relations:


1. Illinois, Europe and the country of Belgium have had a long, strong trade and investment relationship for many years, which was cemented when the State opened in Brussels in 1968 its first ever trade office. The office has over the years helped hundreds of Illinois companies to find market opportunities in Europe and worked with many European companies to set up operations in Illinois.


2. Belgium, a small country with a population of close to 11 million, is Illinois 9th largest trading partner, receiving more than $1.65 billion worth of Illinois exports in 2011, a 42.7% increase over 2010. Top industries were industrial machinery, vehicles and miscellaneous chemical products.

3. Brussels is the capital of Belgium, but also the capital of Europe, where representatives from 27 EU member states reside, and is home to the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament, where important decisions on trade and investment are being made, and why working groups such as the TABD (Transatlantic Business Dialogue) TEC (Transatlantic Economic Council) are very active in the city.

4. In 2011, more than $11.46 billion of Illinois exports were received in the EU 27 which is an increase of 27.6% over 2010. Main industries were industrial machinery, electrical machinery, vehicles, surgical equipment and miscellaneous chemical products.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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