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Barack Obama

Factbox: Midwest has many commercial ties to China

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting Chicago this week as part of his four-day visit to the United States.

The city, the country’s third largest, is the commercial and banking heart of the U.S. Midwest, a region that has deep business ties with China.

Here are some of the more significant ones:

AEROSPACE: Boeing Co, the world’s largest aerospace and defense company, will deliver $19 billion worth of 737 and 777 aircraft to Chinese customers over the next three years. Boeing estimates China will need 4,330 new commercial airplanes, worth $480 billion, over the next 20 years, making it the largest airplane market outside the United States.

AGRICULTURE: The farmland that surrounds Chicago is some of the most fertile in the world and the city is home to the world’s largest exchange for agricultural commodities as well as a host of financial derivatives.

China was the second largest market for U.S. agricultural goods in 2009, with sales totaling $13.5 billion. China bought more than half of the soybeans exported by the United States last year and bought 1.5 million metric tons of U.S. corn, its first large purchases in four years. China also agreed to reopen its market to U.S. beef for the first time since December, 2003.

AUTOMOBILES: China has fast become a huge market for U.S. automakers based in Detroit. General Motors, the No. 1 U.S. carmaker, sold about 2.35 million vehicles in China last year, up from just 870,000 in 2006, and it now has about 2,700 dealers in the country.

But when Hu is in Chicago this week, he is expected to spend at least some of his time talking about Wanxiang America, the Elgin, Illinois-based U.S. arm of Wanxiang International. Wanxiang is one of China’s largest private enterprises and now supplies parts to more than half of the top 15 so-called “Tier One” auto parts suppliers in the United States.

HEAVY MACHINERY: China’s massive investment in its national infrastructure has been a boon to makers of earth moving equipment such as Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc and Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Co.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, told investors this summer that “winning in China” by 2015 is one of the company’s top priorities.

The company, which already has nearly a dozen plants in China, has indicated more are on the way. Talking this summer about the company’s bet on the country, Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s CEO, promised the Peoria, Illinois-based company would be “stepping it up big time and putting our money where our mouth is with investments over there.”

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Motorola Solutions, one of the two companies formed when Motorola Inc split into two earlier this year, sees China as a key growth market. The company makes a variety of products, including two-way radios, mobile computers, secure public safety systems, and wireless network infrastructure.

Reporting by James Kelleher and Karl Plume; Editing by Eric Walsh

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