October 21-24, 2019

Trade Mission to Chicago, USA.

Explore the US Market. Source New Customers, Partners, Suppliers and Investors.

Trade Mission to Chicago, Illinois, USA

Come and explore Chicago, Illinois (United States of America) with other C-Level Executives as a guest of the International Trade Council. Learn about doing business in Chicago, explore the US market, gain exposure to the business culture, meet with potential customers, source new products and/or services and find new partners.

Trade Mission Starts in:

Why Participate?

Direct access to high-level business and government officials suited to the unique needs of each delegate

Personalized list of trade leads for each delegate - based on your individual / unique needs

Personalized pre-arranged 1:1 / business-to-business meetings for each delegate based on their unique business needs

Personalized online calendar of your scheduled 1:1 meetings

1/2 day business-to-business 'speed dating' networking event

Elevator pitch sessions for delegates to introduce their business to one another as well as to local, Chicago-based CEO's

Other tailored networking events with government officials and local business executives

Participation in the Doing Business in the USA seminar

Hands on and up-to-date market information from senior officials and Chicago industry leaders

Beneficial intra-group exchanges - network with your peers who are participating in the Trade Mission from other countries

Educational and cultural experiences

The opportunity to meet other CEO's / Presidents from leading companies across the world who will also be visiting the USA for the trade mission

Press releases and social media support - highlighting the attendance and meeting needs of each delegate

Delegate corporate profiles distributed to 30,000+ C-Level executives in Chicago / Illinois

Logistical support from experienced trade commissioners

Positive effects of International Trade Council Trade Missions include higher sales revenues, lower procurement costs and better sourcing, education, cultural/international business savvy, preparedness, professional development, visibility/goodwill and perspective. An additional benefit is that the mission participants develop close friendships among themselves and a useful, professional network.

Who Will You Meet?

The Trade Mission aims to bring participating foreign companies into contact with potential agents, importers, distributors / wholesalers, retailers, joint venture partners, licensees, local businesses, and government agencies in Chicago, Illinois (USA). Delegates are asked to tell the Council’s Trade Commissioners the industries they’re looking to connect with and the job-title / profile of the appropriate decision-makers.  Council staff will then undertake a study to find the most appropriate companies who are qualified to meet the specific needs of each delegate and schedule 1:1 meetings with those organizations.

It is important to note that this is a Trade Mission – not a trade show! A Trade Mission is comprised of networking events, a personalized meeting agenda for each delegate, pre-scheduled 1:1 meetings and site visits – all based on the unique needs of each attendee. Attendees advise the Council trade commissioners about the types of companies (industries / typical company sizes etc) that they would like to meet during the trade mission, the job-titles that they’d wish to meet, and why they’d like to meet (buying, selling, investing, partnerships, market research etc). Council trade commissioners then work on creating a short list of companies for each delegate, share the delegate profile with those companies and schedule a meeting between both sides. This is very different to ‘standing in a booth’ at a trade show. Trade Mission leads are those which have already seen the corporate profile of the delegate, understand the purpose of the meeting and have agreed to meet based on that purpose.

Who Should Participate

The International Trade Council is looking for highly ambitious businesses who’ve been trading for a minimum of two years and have plans to increase customer base, employ more people and expand to new markets (including the designated market) in the next 24 months. Delegates may be from any industry as this is a multi-sector trade mission. Delegates may be seeking investors, looking to source new products, looking to sell their product or service, be researching the market, be looking for mentors, be wanting to explore opening new branches / offices in the target market etc; just let the Council staff know why you’re wishing to attend and they will match you will the appropriate companies in Chicago for your 1:1 meetings.

Each Trade Mission is Limited to 25 International Delegate Organizations

This limit allows our trade commissioners to create personalized market research, targets/leads lists, site visits and other activities for each delegate. This is a multi-sector trade mission, so no two delegates are alike. Council trade commissioners carefully research the objectives of each delegate and set appointments according to those needs.

Limiting the number of attendees also allows the Council to circulate each attendee profile to our 30,000+ contacts across Chicago without ‘flooding’ those local executives with too many options for meetings. The limit also allows us to maximize any potential media coverage for international delegates attending the trade mission.

Inbound Delegates Attend from Across the Globe

Official Delegate Welcomes

Country ‘Doing Business’ Briefings

Business Speed-Dating Sessions

Delegate ‘Elevator Pitch’ Sessions

Social Luncheon Networking

Early-bird discounts available. Register before 15th July 2019.

Why Chicago, Illinois?

Chicago is the USA's third largest city. Chicago is also the USA's second-most visited city in the United States and routinely tops ``best city`` surveys (by Condé Nast, Time Out, and Bon Appétit). The Chicago metropolitan area is home to the nation’s third largest manufacturing cluster, with over 560,000 jobs in industries ranging from computers and electronics to metalworking and pharmaceuticals. In recent years, growth of global population and income have led to increased foreign demand for U.S. manufactured products. Since 2009 regional manufacturing exports have grown in value by 11 and 12 percent per year respectively.

As Big as a Country!

Chicago’s $610B GRP is more than countries like Argentina, Sweden, and Poland.

Second Largest Central Business District in the USA

Chicago boasts the third largest Gross Metropolitan Product in the U.S. (after New York City and Los Angeles), generating $610.5 billion, accounting for 3.9% of U.S. GDP. The MasterCard Worldwide Center of Commerce index named Chicago the 4th most important business center in the world; more than 30 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Chicago, and the city is rated as having the most balanced economy in the U.S. On a global level, Chicago is considered one of the world’s major financial centers and is the 2nd largest Central Business District in the U.S.

The Third Largest City in the USA

Since its founding, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, Chicago has remained a major hub for industry, telecommunications and infrastructure, with O’Hare International Airport being the second busiest airport, in terms of traffic movements, in the world. The city’s distinct neighborhoods offer a large array of cultural, historical, sporting and entertainment focal points that bring thousands of tourists to the area yearly.

Most Diversified Economy in the USA

Chicago has one of the world’s largest and most diversified economies, with more than four million employees and generating an annual gross regional product (GRP) of over $609 billion. The city is an efficient economic powerhouse, home to more than 400 major corporate headquarters, including 36 in the Fortune 500. Among the most diverse economies in the nation, Chicago is a key player in every sector from risk management innovation to manufacturing to information technology to health services.

Globally Connected

A hub of international business activity, Chicago is home to well over 1,800 foreign-based companies, and with more than $100 billion in foreign direct investment. Recognized for its top foreign direct investment strategy among major cities around the world, Chicago is the top North American city for investment according to IBM’s annual Global Location Trends report. Chicago’s robust international business resources include 80+ Consulates/Consuls General, and 100+ international/ethnic Chambers of Commerce and international trade organizations. Chicago’s 28 international sister cities also help to strengthen and expand the city’s global partnerships.  IBM’s Global Location Trends 2016 Annual Report ranks Chicago the top U.S. city for foreign direct investment (FDI); 7th globally.

Companies are Actively Moving to Chicago

Chicago has seen a surge of companies — construction and general business alike — relocating there, and that wave doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Developer Sterling Bay is building the new McDonald’s corporate headquarters on the former site of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, a downtown move from its current headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook. Although the building is technically a lease for the burger giant, it will take up the lion’s share of the 600,000-square-foot building. Another huge name in the food business, Conagra Foods, also announced that it would relocate to Chicago from its current home in Omaha, NE, following a similar move by Kraft Heinz to downtown Chicago on behalf of its Oscar Meyer and other meats business units. Equipment giant Caterpillar also announced recently that it will move its corporate headquarters from Peoria, IL, to Chicago. As a result of drawing in a slew of companies, Chicago is seeing a boom in commercial construction. The city currently has the second-highest number of cranes of any U.S. city, behind Seattle. But why are so many firms choosing to head for the Windy City? Experts point to the area’s relatively low cost of living, proximity to young, talented workers, and access to transit options as factors contributing to the growing trend.

Chicago is the Lowest Cost and Best Value Major City in the USA

KPMG ranks Chicago as one of the most cost-effective cities in the world for doing business — ahead of New York and Los Angeles — in terms of the combined impact of 26 significant business cost components including labor, utilities, facility, transportation, financing costs, and taxes. In addition, the city is a central hub with direct connections to all six Class-One North American railroads, six major U.S. Interstates, and flights between more than 200 cities worldwide.

Close Proximity to Agriculture & Food Production

Outside of the city of Chicago, one of the most prevalent industries in Illinois is farming and agriculture. As such, it is easier to access locally sourced food, dairy and other farmed goods. Agriculture also benefits the Chicago economy on a wider scale. The Illinois Department of Agriculture states, “[Illinois] ranks first in the nation with $180 billion in processed food sales”. Most of these companies are located in the Chicago metropolitan area, which contains one of the largest concentrations of food-related businesses in the world. As such, Chicago is also home to some of the best dining in the country. Having a business in Chicago is great for entrepreneurs in many industries. The strong sense of community allows business owners to build a connection with their customers, and a booming tourist population gives businesses word of mouth advertising to people from all over the world.

Low Cost of Living

The relatively inexpensive cost of doing business in Chicago and low housing prices compared to cities on either coast is a major plus. CBRE lists the office rates for some popular areas of the city at just under $40 per square foot. Compare that to around $73 per square foot in San Francisco or about the same in Midtown Manhattan. As for apartments, $3,420 (median price) will get someone a decent-sized one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, and not far behind is New York City at $3,220. Chicago, however, stands at about $1,480. It isn’t a tough choice for millennials who want an urban, downtown experience but are still paying off their student loan debt. What other major city can you come to as a young parent and buy or rent a nice residence with the ability to easily walk to work, without feeling like you’re always chasing a livable solution?

Snapshot of Chicago:

Population: 7,319,900

Major Industries: Financial services, Engineering, Publishing, Food processing

Gross Metro Product: $514.9 B

Median Household Income: $68,604

Median Home Price: $270,000

Unemployment: 4.4%

Job Growth (2017): 0.7%

Cost of Living: 1% below nat’l avg

College Attainment: 39.2%

Net Migration (2017): -10,600


Total trade in Illinois was $181.4 billion in 2016.

Global exports, led by machinery parts, electric machinery, and vehicles, totaled $59.8 billion, while imports totaled $181.4 billion.


  • Canada – $41.2 billion in total trade
  • China – $35.4 billion
  • Mexico – $21.2 billion
  • Japan – $11.8 billion
  • Germany – $7.8 billion


Job Growth: 0.7%
Unemployment: 4.4%
Median Household Income: $68,604
Household Income Growth: 3.2%
High-Tech Employment: 2.5%


Median Home Price: $270,000
Home Price Change: 6.2%


High School Attainment: 88.4%
College Attainment: 39.2%
Graduate Degrees: 15.4%


Cost of Living: 1% below nat’l avg
Average Commute: 33 minutes
Crimes per 100,000 Residents: 2,652
Net Migration (2017): -10,600
Average Days Above 90ºF: 21 (nat’l avg: 37)
Average Days Below 32ºF: 119 (nat’l avg: 88)


  • 50 wards
  • 77 community areas
  • 100 neighborhoods
  • 8 major league sports teams, including two MLB teams
  • The former United States President, Barack Obama



  • 36 annual parades
  • 40 annual film festivals
  • 74 music festivals
  • 200 professional dance companies
  • More than 200 theaters
  • 250 live music venues
  • 40+ annual film festivals
  • 20+ film and filmmaker nonprofit organizations
  • 12+ art house and independent cinemas
  • 13,000 film and TV production jobs
  • 400+ individual film and TV productions

Trade Mission Schedule



Pre-Briefing of International Trade Mission Delegates & Distribution of Welcome Kits

7:30pm - 7:35pm

Welcome Remarks: Organizing Committee

7:35pm - 7:40pm

Welcome Remarks: ITC Chairperson Welcome Remarks


Welcome Dinner for International Trade Mission Delegates


Welcome Remarks: Organizing Committee

Think Global Conference Day One – [International + USA Delegates]

Welcome Remarks: ITC Chairperson Welcome Remarks


Welcome Remarks: Title Sponsor

Keynote: The Value of Going Global

Developing Your ‘Going Global’ Strategy


Getting Your Idea to International Markets & Finding the Right Partners


Morning Refreshments & Exhibition Visit


Scaling Your Business

Parallel Judging Panel for Think Global Awards and 1:1 Break-Out Sessions

Building a Culture of Innovation

Parallel Judging Panel for Think Global Awards and 1:1 Break-Out Sessions

Move Fast and Break Things

Parallel Judging Panel for Think Global Awards and 1:1 Break-Out Sessions

Partnering for Growth

Parallel Judging Panel for Think Global Awards and 1:1 Break-Out Sessions

Networking Lunch


TRACK ONE: Surviving a Trade War

TRACK TWO: Cultivating Entrepreneurship

TRACK ONE: International Regulation and Policy

TRACT TWO: Intellectual Property Protection

TRACT ONE: How to Launch a Producing During a Trade War

TRACT TWO: The Future of Work

Afternoon Refreshments & Exhibition Visit


Lessons from the Experts


Keynote: Technologies Connecting People and Growing Businesses


Networking Reception


Welcome Remarks: Organizing Committee

Think Global Conference Day 2 – [International + USA Delegates]

Welcome Remarks: Title Sponsor


Keynote: Financing Your Trade Deals


Doing Business Where Others Don’t Dare


Morning Refreshments and Exhibition Visits


TRACT ONE: Emerging Technical Barriers to Trade

TRACT TWO: Positioning, Product and Pitch

TRACT ONE: Managing Changes in Sanctions Regulations

TRACT TWO: Paths Companies Take to Grow

TRACT ONE: Supply Chain and Export Market Optimization

TRACT TWO: New, Emerging and Foundational Technologies

Networking Lunch & B2B Speed Dating


B2B Speed-Dating


Announcing of Awardees for the International Trade Council Think Global Awards (USA)


Think Global Awards Dinner


Hosted Site Visits: Pre-arranged, sponsored site visits

Think Global Conference Day 3 – Optional - [International + USA Delegates]

Return from Site Visits

Official close of trade mission.

Benefits of Attending

Free With Attendance

All attendees will be provided with:

A minimum of 5 pre-scheduled appointments with companies and contacts appropriate to their target market

Entry to networking events + free admission for 1 additional guest

Entry to the 'Doing business in the USA' and 'Doing Business in Chicago' seminars

Entry to delegate working luncheons

Showcase of each delegate business with elevator pitch at the half day Export Cafe

Business speed-dating / business round-tables admission

A customized list of trade leads from Chicago tailored to the delegates business

An electronic database of 30,000 Illinois-based traders, retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, importers and exports

1 free press release distribution to major media outlets about your attendance at the Trade Mission

Full page advertisement in the Mission Delegate booklet - circulated to more than 30,000 local CEO's

Support for the Mission

Scheduled One-to-One Meetings

Prior to the Trade Mission you will be contacted by an accredited International Trade Council Export Consultant who will work to understand your business, your market potential and your desired target audience.  You will advise the Council’s Trade Commissioner of the industry/industries, job roles and company sizes that you’re focused on meeting. The Trade Commissioners will then make a short list and contact each to set appointments on your behalf for the Trade Mission. We also strongly advise that you also use any contacts you may have or are looking to establish, to arrange your own meetings. Businesses that have the most success on our missions have always done a mix of meetings they have sourced as well as those arranged via the Council.

Pre-Mission 1:1 Conference

A Trade Commissioner will contact you to better understand your mission objectives, the types of organizations that you’d like to meet and your expected outcome at least 1 month prior to the Trade Mission. This briefing may include advice on how to do business in the United States of America. It is also an opportunity to  discuss the Mission logistics and connect with other participants.

Shared Market Intelligence

Businesses attending the Trade Mission will have different levels of experience in the market.  Those new to the market will benefit from the experiences of others.  Members of the Trade Mission are invited to join other members of the group and our sponsor’s representatives each evening for dinner which provides an opportunity to discuss issues and ideas.

Mission Booklet - Distributed to 30,000+ Executives in Chicago

The Council will produce a booklet containing the corporate profile of each delegate organization  taking part in the Mission.  The images, text and contact details will be approved in consultation with yourself.  If you’re successful in your application we’ll ask you to supply a high-resolution company logo, 1/2 page corporate profile, head and shoulders photo and 1/2 page biography to include in the brochure.

Press Coverage

We’d like to promote your connection with the Trade Mission. Therefore, if you’re successful in your application we’ll share your details with our public relations team. They will issue a press release about your attendance on the trade mission and distribute the same to various media outlets.


If you are selected to attend the Trade Mission the Council will provide a Letter of Invitation (PDF) via email. Council staff will also send a copy of the same directly to the US Immigration Service.

Register for the Trade Mission now!

Secure your place before all spots are taken and lock in the early bird discount.

Register for the Trade Mission

Early Bird Pricing for Non-Council Members

Offer applicable for non-Council members who register and pay before the 15th July, 2019.Register Now

Early Bird Pricing for Trade Council Members

For International Trade Council Members who register and pay before the 15th July, 2019. Register Now

Standard Pricing After 15th July, 2019

Standard non-member pricing for those who register after the 15th June, 2019.Register Now

Need additional information? Want to take a colleague along at a discounted rate? Get in touch with one of our trade commissioners to discuss your specific needs.

Government Grants and Subsidies

Various international governments provide grants for exporters of various sizes looking to enter new markets. These grants will often partly pay for expenses incurred in attending trade missions (usually on a reimbursement basis). You can check here to see if a grant is available for companies incorporated in your jurisdiction. http://www.tradecouncil.org/2019-export-development-trade-mission-assistance-grants/ Note: You will have to make the application directly with the appropriate government agency where you are incorporated. While the Council can provide proof of your attendance on the trade mission and official receipts on request we cannot complete the application for a grant on your behalf.

Other Important Information

Letters of Invitation

The Council will issue a Letter of Invitation to all delegates who require a visa to Canada.This Letter of Invitation is an official document from the International Trade Council which explains a visa applicant’s intended purpose of travel [the Trade Mission to Chicago] and the length of proposed stay. It is important to note that Consular officers look at the totality of an applicant’s personal situation in determining visa eligibility. Supporting documents, such as a Letter of Invitation from the Council, are often useful, but are not decisive in determining an applicant’s visa eligibility.


The venue for the initial welcome event, briefings about doing business in the USA & doing business in Chicago and the afternoon round-table sessions is the Conference Center at the Greenhouse Loft, 2545 W Diversey Ave. Chicago, IL 60647. Note that the venues can sometimes change for reasons outside of the control of the Council. Final venue information will be provided in the “Preparing for the Trade Mission to the USA” delegate workbook.

Recommended Trade Mission Accommodation

You may stay in any accommodation that you wish, however the Council recommended  accommodations are listed below:    

Services Not Included in Ticket Price

Airfares and Accommodation Costs

It is the responsibility of each delegate to book and pay for their own airfares, accommodation and meals outside of the scheduled networking meals. Transport to and from any pre-scheduled b2b meetings is also at your own cost. Please do not book any travel or accommodation prior to receiving conformation of your place on the Trade Mission. 


Trade Mission members are strongly advised to take out adequate travel and sickness insurance.  If you cancel your attendance due to illness, disablement or death there will be no refund. We always recommend that your travel insurance includes cover for cancellation of the visit for reasons beyond the control of the International Trade Council.  If a mission is cancelled for reasons beyond our control, the International Trade Council can take no responsibility for any loss you may incur.


The CDC currently advises that there are no vaccination requirements for visitors to the United States. For information on US-based infectious disease outbreaks currently being reported by CDC, please see the CDC Current Outbreak List.

USA Visa Waiver Program

ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Authorization via ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers determine admissibility upon travelers’ arrival. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets. Find out more here.

Visas for Those Not Eligible under the US Visa Waiver Program

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The B-1 visitor visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (travelers consulting with business associates, attending scientific, educational, professional or business conventions/conferences, settling an estate or negotiating contracts). Find out how to apply here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/business.html For general advice about your trip to the United States, see these additional resources:

Terms and Conditions of Participation


If you decide not to join the Trade Mission, and inform us by fax, letter or email, arriving on or before the 30th June 2019 we shall refund 50% of the Mission participation fee.  After 30th June 2019 there will be no refund.  Note: We are generally to substitute individuals from the same company should one or another fall sick and be unable to attend. We are also generally able to move individuals to other trade missions if you fall sick ore are unable to attend.  Refunds do not apply if you have been transferred from another trade mission.

Refunds Due to Failure to Obtain a Visa

You will be issued with an official Letter of Invitation to present with your US Visa Application as required, however the final issuance of visas to the United States of America is outside of the control of the Council. Should you not obtain a visa to the USA, or fail to obtain a visa on time, then your trade mission participation fee may be credited towards a different trade mission of your choosing [in a different jurisdiction] scheduled to occur within the next 12 months. Should you fail to obtain visas to more than two countries for a trade mission then the Council will not be able to refund your trade mission participation fee.

Other General Terms and Conditions

The participant must submit a completed registration form and supplemental application materials, including adequate information on the company's products and/or services, primary market objectives, and goals for participation.

Upon submission of the registration (whether online, via fax, email, post, courier or in person), the participation for the Trade Mission will be binding and the participation fee will be due.

The International Trade Council reserves the right to evaluate the ability of the applicant to meet the participation criteria.

The participant must hold and maintain travel and other appropriate insurances in connection with attendance at, and participation in, the Trade Mission.

Flight from your country of origin to Chicago and all hotel, food or ground transportation expenses outside the denoted meals and activities are borne by the participants

The participant accepts full responsibility for all the business and organizational outcomes arising from their participation. The International Trade Council will not be held responsible for the commercial endeavors of any party that participates in the trade mission.

The participant agrees to provide a 1/2 page biography and photograph of their nominated delegate (person representing their company) at least 2 months prior to the date of the trade mission and acknowledges that a failure to do so may mean exclusion from the delegate book.

The participant agrees to provide a 1/2 page company profile and high resolution company logo at least 2 months prior to the date of the trade mission and acknowledges that a failure to do so may mean exclusion from the delegate book.

The participant agrees to participate in a separate survey to evaluate the Trade Mission.

The participant agrees that cancellation for trade mission attendance due to non-receipt of a visa is not grounds for a refund; and that the trade mission fee will be instead credited towards any future trade mission occuring within 12 months of the date of this trade mission.

The International Trade Council reserves the right to reject any application without being obliged to discuss the reasons for doing so. Any decision made by the Council will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Interested in Sponsoring?

If your organization is interested in sponsoring a panel discussion, breakfast, dinner, social mixer or other event during the Trade Mission to Chicago, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a quick email and we’ll get right back to you.

Venue Map & Council Contact Information

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Contacting the International Trade Council

ITC International Headquarters
Rond Point Robert Schuman 11, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 588 5803
Fax: +32 2 588 5804
Email: info@tradecouncil.org
Website: www.tradecouncil.org

United States of America (Trade Mission Administration)
712 H Street NE
Washington DC 2002
United States of America
Tel: +1 202 869 0988
Fax: +1 202 869 1121
Email: mwalker@tradecouncil.org

NY & Chicago Region Chairperson
Ms Orit Horn
181 S. Franklin Ave, Suite 601
Valley Stream New York 11531
Tel: +1 516 791 9100
Fax: +1 202 869 1121
Email: orit.horn@tradecouncil.org