SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn plans to lead a trade mission with state business leaders to Mexico City this week to promote trade and expand Mexican tourism in Illinois.
“The mission will strengthen the longstanding bridges between Illinois and Mexico — especially in agriculture, water technology, manufacturing and tourism — to help fuel our state’s economic growth,” Quinn said in a prepared statement about the mission, which starts Wednesday and ends Saturday.
Bill Wykes, chairman of the Bloomington-based Illinois Soybean Association, said he hopes to receive customer feedback and explore possible educational opportunities the association could offer.
Wykes said Mexico is the second-largest soybean customer for the U.S.
Mexico imported $1.6 billion worth of soybeans, $370 million worth of soybean meal and $194 million worth of soybean oil from the U.S. in 2011.
“Soybeans are hugely important to the economy of Illinois,” Wykes said. “We represent over 40,000 farmers, soybean growers in Illinois, so we look at it as a good opportunity to meet with some of our customers, and see what … we can to do to help them.”
Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. plans to be one of the sponsors for a reception Thursday in Mexico City, ADM spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said.
“ADM is involved in this mission because we see a bright future for further agricultural development and increasing domestic production in Mexico,” Anderson said. “We believe a good relationship with the Mexican government will continue to help agriculture grow in Mexico, which in turn will be helpful to ADM and other agriculture and manufacturing businesses in Illinois.”
Tate & Lyle, which has an agricultural products processing facility in Decatur, sees Mexico as a potentially growing market for corn sweeteners and modified food products, said Chris Olsen, the company’s vice president of community and government affairs. Olsen, who participated in a similar trip to Brazil last year, said he appreciates the state’s efforts to create such opportunities.
Tate & Lyle already has a production and sales presence in Mexico, he said.
“Mexico is an important element in our global growth strategy,” Olsen said. “An opportunity like this is a great benefit. Central and South America have growing populations, so it’s where we believe we can grow.”
Chris Lusvardi contributed to this report.