Friday, October 11, 2013

Ecuador's Minister of International Trade: Chicago and Illinois Businesses are Key to Ecuador's Economic Growth; Praises Their Growing Relationships

CHICAGO  – Ecuador’s Minister of International Trade, Francisco Rivadeneira, visited Chicago Wednesday for meetings with key government and business leaders from Chicago and Illinois. In meetings with Deputy Mayor Steven Koch; Daniel Goff, Director of the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment; Cortez Carter, Managing Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, and leaders from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Rivadeneira outlined a number of business initiatives that are being finalized between Ecuador and Chicago and the State of Illinois, including a sister city relationship between Quito and Chicago and a “sister airport” relationship between Chicago O’Hare and Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito.
Francisco Rivadeneira, Minister of
 International Trade, Ecuador 

Mr. Rivadeneira underscored that Chicago business and governmental leaders should view Ecuador as an increasingly attractive country with which to develop strategic business partnerships. “We believe that Chicago and Illinois are going to be very instrumental in Ecuador’s economic growth. The region is a gateway to the Midwestern and Canadian marketplaces and a central hub for international transport of goods to faraway global markets,” he said. The sister airport agreement, for example, would facilitate direct passenger and cargo flights between the two cities and create opportunities for the respective countries to promote tourism and business development.

Of central importance is the new Chicago Perishable Center at O’Hare airport, a private entity which is now in its operational planning stages and will open in 2014. The Center will enable direct flights of perishable goods to and from O’Hare; goods will arrive fresher and more accessible to Midwestern and Canadian markets. “We are working to solidify agreements with passenger and cargo airlines so they will fly directly between Quito and Chicago O’Hare,” said Rivadeneira. “We also are going to urge TAME, the national airline of Ecuador, to begin passenger flights to and from O’Hare. These flights will increase tourism and commercial activity between the two countries. We are in discussion with American carriers as well.”

Ecuador's International Trade Minister Francisco Rivadeneira
holds meetings with Chicago political and business 
leaders October 9.
At the meeting with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Rivadeneira stated, “the Chicago area is home to many companies related to transportation, manufacturing, mining, eco-environment and technology with which we are now doing business in Ecuador. We want to do even more business with Illinois companies.”

“We are a resource-rich country and we’re just now beginning to develop them in a sustainable way,” he said. “We’re using American equipment to do the job, and we will need much more of it.” For American companies and startups, several advantages to setting up shop in Quito were noted: a skilled technical labor force, the low cost of living, same time zone and currency, tax incentives, etc.
Bill Moller interviews Francisco Rivadeneira on First Business
Rivadeneira also emphasized Ecuador’s strong initiatives in technology and education. Among them, a government sponsored program that sends Ecuador’s best students to top US universities. “We’re going to expand the program; Illinois has several top schools with whom we hope to develop partnerships,” he said.

Another key initiative is the “City of Knowledge” near Quito, a large national program to bring together technologists, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs to be used as a cluster for business development from a wide variety of disciplines, and for innovative approaches to such efforts as the transition to alternative, sustainable energy sources and the building of new national infrastructure. “The City of Knowledge is Ecuador’s nucleus of new ideas and technological breakthroughs that will create Ecuador’s sustainable, knowledge-based economy of the future,” said Rivadeneira. “We hope to develop partnerships with Chicago’s technology incubator programs. We want technology firms in Illinois to know we are definitely a forward-thinking country.”

To see more photos, visit Flickr here.

Photos by Cindy Kurman, Kurman Communications, Inc.
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