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Pritzker enters Illinois into trade MOU with Ontario

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(The Center Square) – Canada is Illinois’ largest trading partner and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is hoping to trade some knowledge about alternative energy technologies.

Pritzker continues his trade mission in Canada this week. Tuesday, Pritzker joined Ontario Premier Doug Ford to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two governments. During a news conference, Pritzker praised what he called common values.

“It’s just easy. We talk the same language and I think being together in that endeavor makes us stronger, stronger than other regions certainly of the world, if not of North America,” Pritzker said.

The MOU focuses on trade opportunities in manufacturing, energy, agriculture and automotive industries. Pritzker focused on investing in alternative energy.

“I think that’s something that Illinois has been later to come to than you but we’re fast catching up and we are in need of assistance and partnership and I think there’s a huge opportunity from the industrial perspective to share that kind of technology,” Pritzker said.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity reports Illinois’ top exports to Canada are transportation equipment and petroleum and coal products. Top imports are oil and gas and food.

Later in the day Tuesday, Pritzker provided the keynote address at the US-Canada Summit sponsored by BMO and the Eurasia Group. He told attendees that Illinois is leading in quantum computing through incentives and tax breaks and creating an ecosystem bringing together research, manufacturing and finance.

“Now I won’t bore you with a layman’s explanation of quantum superposition or qubits or quantum entanglement. But know that quantum has the potential to revolutionize entire industries and unlock a world of possibility in clean energy, artificial intelligence, medicine, finance, and much, much more,” Pritzker said in prepared remarks.

In total, Pritzker said he has committed Illinois taxpayers to invest $700 million toward the industry.

Pritzker also shared that overall bilateral trade between Illinois and Canada reached $92 billion in 2022, increasing 100% in the past 15 years.

The governor also discussed cultural issues he said Illinois is picking up on from Canada.

“We are more inclusive and welcoming, fighting off the regressive social policies of a fringe minority, we are a state that proudly defends people’s freedoms – women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights,” Pritzker said. “You might say we’ve followed your lead here in Canada.”

Illinois Republicans have been critical of Pritzker’s policies, including expanding access to taxpayer funded abortions and ending parental notification for minor girls getting abortions.

Republicans were also critical of Pritzker recently approving a mid-election year change they argued hurt voting rights. That measure prohibiting slating candidates for the November election who didn’t run in the primary has been blocked by the courts for this year.

And while the governor told attendees of the US-Canada Summit he is fostering a “business-friendly climate,” the nonpartisan Tax Foundation ranks Illinois 38th among the 50 U.S. States for the 2024 State Business Tax Climate. The Tax Foundation further shows Illinois ranked 43rd in corporate tax, 45th for property tax rank and 42nd for unemployment insurance tax rank.

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