The 25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade Shines a Light on Investment Opportunities in Chicago


JCCT lights up Blue Cross-Blue Shield Illinois building

JCCT lights up Blue Cross-Blue Shield Illinois building

CHICAGO, December 19, 2014 – Chicago served as the backdrop for the 25th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) concluding today, providing a unique opportunity for the city and the nation to strengthen their partnerships with China. The session included a luncheon hosted by World Business Chicago (WBC) and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) celebrating the Gateway Cities Agreement between Chicago and eight major Chinese cities; the signing of an agreement to build an 88-story mixed use hotel, condominium and retail building along the Chicago River; and breakout sessions to build ties in manufacturing, infrastructure and tourism.

Highlights of the JCCT’s first session in Chicago include:

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel presided over the signing of an architect agreement between Beijing-based Wanda Group and Magellan Development Group to build the Wanda Vista project, an 88-story mixed-use hotel, condominium and retail building at Lakeshore East on Upper Wacker Drive in Chicago. The project is expected to break ground in 2016 and will create over 2,000 construction jobs and more than 500 permanent jobs. It will be the largest-ever real estate investment by a Chinese company in Chicago, and one of the largest in the United States.

“Wanda’s decision to bring its first U.S. investment to Chicago is a major win for our city,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This $900 million project is an important investment in our city’s future – not only because of its size and scope, but also because of the thousands of jobs it will create and the impact it will have in solidifying Chicago’s place as a destination for international business, tourism and transportation.”

The Wanda development is the first result of the Gateway Cities memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was featured at the JCCT luncheon hosted by Mayor Emanuel and WBC on December 17.  Speakers at the lunch included U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and Wang Yang, Vice Premier, State Council, People’s Republic of China.

“Chicago is a true hub of domestic commerce,” Secretary Pritzker said. “Over the years, Chicago has drawn more than $100 billion in foreign direct investment and has a clear strategy to attract more. The city has been strengthened because of its deep connection to China, to Chinese businesses and to China’s people. This city has become a proverbial bridge between our countries, which is why we elected to hold the 2014 JCCT here.”

This is just the second time in its history, the U.S.-China JCCT talks are being held outside of Washington, D.C., when held in the U.S.

  • Breakout sessions during the JCCT included discussions on manufacturing, real estate and infrastructure, and tourism.
  • Real estate panel discussions included executive leaders from Magellan, The John Buck Company, McCaffery Interests, Bucksbaum Retail Properties and Vermilion Development. Dialogues focused on the opportunities in foreign direct investments in real estate developments. On the infrastructure panel, senior leaders from Ullico, Mayer Brown, Locke Lord, and Goldman Sachs discussed the current and expanding role of private investing in public infrastructure.
  • Manufacturing discussions included leaders from the City, Cook County, The University of Chicago and WBC. Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America Corporation and WBC board member, delivered a keynote address focusing on his experience in investing and expanding his business in Chicago, and how China and the U.S. can work together in globalizing manufacturing. Panel discussions, which included leaders from Grant Thornton, Morgan Stanley and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition focused on the diversification of manufacturing; human capital and workforce development; and the role of government and regional collaboration with counterparts from the Chinese delegation.
  • A luncheon hosted by WBC and AON where Deputy Mayor Koch, and panelists from AON, Hyatt, and Walgreens spoke on workforce development and the Chicago City Colleges College to Careers program.

Sponsors for the JCCT-related events included Abbott, GCM Grosvenor, Boeing Company, Archer Daniels Midland, Corning Inc., Dow Chemical Company, Mead Johnson Nutrition Company, Underwriters Laboratories, and Qualcomm Inc. Baker & McKenzie was a corporate partner.

Established in 1983, the JCCT is the primary forum for addressing bilateral trade and investment issues and promoting commercial opportunities between the U.S. and China. High-level plenary meetings are held annually and are chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Chinese Vice Premier in charge of trade and investment issues. Sixteen JCCT Working Groups meet throughout the year to address topics such as intellectual property rights, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, information technology and travel and tourism.

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