Prominent local businessmen gathered in Chicago Wednesday to welcome a delegation of 100 influential Chinese officials and business leaders as the city continues its efforts to attract more Chinese investment.
The conference, hosted by World Business Chicago, a local economic development organization, brought together a variety of economic leaders to discuss business initiatives that could be jointly developed by Chicago and Chinese cities or companies. More than 40 Chinese companies attended the conference.
In his keynote address, Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao, who was in the U.S. on a five-day trade and investment promotion mission, spoke highly of the existing trade and business ties between the two countries and their abundant financial benefits.
“More and more Chinese investors show their interest in making investments in the United States,” Wang said, noting that Chinese-U.S. investment has jumped 18 percent since the end of 2010.
Dialogue through events like the World Business Chicago conference would strengthen the growing relationship between China and the United States, he said.
“We believe these discussions will further enhance our mutual understanding and will also give us stronger confidence and full cooperation.”
Chicago Deputy Mayor Mark Angelson echoed Wang’s remarks, adding that Chicago was honored to become the first U.S. city to house a Confucius Institute and other Chinese connections, and that the city wished to become more deeply involved with China in the future.
During the conference, participants discussed topics such as the current investment climate in Chicago, opportunities in infrastructure investment, China’s outward investment plans, and the real-world experience of Chinese investors.
The Chicago area is home to more than 40+ mainland Chinese-owned companies including Goldwind’s North America HQ, Wanxiang’s North American HQ, Huawei Technologies, BYD, Xinhua, China Telecom Americas and ZTE USA. More than 150 Chicago-area companies have locations in mainland China. China is the region’s largest global trade partner; in 2011 Chicago Customs District reported $41.8 billion in imports and $4.15 billion in exports.
There are 28 nonstop flights between Chicago and China’s mainland, and Hainan Airlines recently received federal approval to launch nonstop flights to Chicago from Beijing, the first mainland China-based airline to offer direct service. Additionally, Chicago’s only foreign business office is located in Shanghai, a Sister City to Chicago since 1985.