Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with the Minister of Commerce from the People’s Republic of China, Gao Hucheng, and the vice mayors and leadership representatives of eight major Chinese cities to sign the Gateway Cities Agreement.  Mayor Emanuel, the Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao and the leadership representatives of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu signed a memorandum of understanding fortifying Chicago’s place as a gateway for Chinese investment in partnership with these eight cities.  This agreement states:

The City of Chicago of the United States and the Ministry of Commerce and relevant cities of the People’s Republic of China, through friendly consultation, have decided to establish the “US Chicago and China Cities Gateway Cities Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment Cooperation”

“I am pleased to announce this historic agreement with Minister Gao Hucheng and China’s most vibrant cities. This will further advance Chicago as a destination for tourism, business and transportation, and demonstrates this administration’s commitment to being the most China-friendly city in the world,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Over the years, we have forged robust cultural and economic relationships with our Chinese friends and after today’s successful signing I believe Chicago and the People’s Republic of China are on their way to a collaboration that is stronger than ever before.”

The objectives of the Working Group are to expand trade and investment cooperation, strengthen communication, enhance trust, boost economic development, and create jobs so as to promote common prosperity and growth between China and Chicago.

The City of Chicago and the Chinese leadership, in the agreement, are committed to fostering the necessary environment for business growth through economic collaboration with a focus on the following key sectors: manufacturing, tourism, finance and insurance, professional services, wholesale and retail, transportation and logistics, and infrastructure.  Both parties agreed to mechanisms of cooperation and collaboration in the following ways:

  • To exchange information on regular basis about trade, investment, and cooperation projects and exhibitions;
  • To continue city to city cross promotion;
  • To organize exchanges of trade and investment promotion missions and help companies seek business opportunities;
  • To organize delegations of entrepreneurs to attend economic and trade fairs held in China and the City of Chicago.

The Gateway Cities Agreement came to fruition over a series of conversations beginning with a trade mission by the leadership of World Business Chicago in January of 2013, with the Consulate General of China in Chicago serving a key role in spurring and supporting those efforts. The WBC group met with government and business leaders in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, seeking to attract investment and jobs to Chicago and further the Chicago’s strong ties with China.

“The Gateway Cities Agreement is a unique effort that will be instrumental in positioning Chicago as the location of choice for Chinese companies seeking a North American presence, a key component of Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs,” said World Business Chicago Vice Chairman Michael Sacks who accompanied Mayor Emanuel. “WBC has established a strong working relationship with civic and business leaders throughout China over the years, and we look forward to strengthening these ties with this pioneering agreement.”

Today’s agreement is the first of its kind signed by a city from the United States with the People’s Republic of China and comes on the heels of the State of California in April signing a similar agreement with the provinces of Jiangsu, Inner Mongolia, Shanghai, Shandong, Guangdong, and Chongqing.

This signing is another successful installment in the dialogue between Chicago and China. Since day one of Mayor Emanuel’s administration, City Hall has sought opportunities to foster positive economic development opportunities with China. In July of 2012 Mayor Emanuel hosted the Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao and a large business delegation to discuss investment opportunities in Chicago. In his first term, Mayor Emanuel met with and welcomed numerous delegations from China to Chicago including three of the mayors whose cities were represented in the signing today – Mayor Tang Liangzhi of Wuhan, Mayor Huang Xingguo of Tianjin and Mayor Chen Haibo of Shenyang. Most recently in November of 2013, Vice Premier Liu Yandong visited Chicago and met with Mayor Emanuel to discuss opportunities to strengthen cultural and academic ties between the City of Chicago and top members of Vice Premier Liu’s delegation.

During Mayor Emanuel’s time in office multiple prominent Chinese companies have started operations in Chicago.  In December 2012, the Bank of China opened a branch in the city, making Chicago only the third city for it to locate in the United States.  Hainan Airlines and Cathay Pacific have also begun direct flights into Chicago O’Hare International Airport.  Cathay Pacific’s service alone accounts for nearly $200 million in economic activity to the Chicago region.  These additional flights bring the total number of direct flights between Chicago and China up to 44 each week. In addition to expanded direct airline service, Chicago is the leading national gateway for air exports to China, representing more than 25 percent of the entire market. In 2010, Chicago passed LAX as the #1 gateway for air imports from China.

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