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Opportunity Alaska

Alaska trade mission piques Chinese curiosity

Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Alaska trade delegates met with Chairman He Lifeng of the National Development Reform Commission (NDCRC) in Beijing, China. Photo: Office of the Governor

In May 2018, Alaska Governor Bill Walker led a trade and investment mission to China to forge new commercial relationships and promote win-win opportunities between the U.S. state and the world’s second-largest economy

Quantitatively, the “Opportunity Alaska” trade mission to China lasted 10 days, involved 38 Alaskan business representatives, and more than 25 meetings in four Chinese cities. Qualitatively, it was an invaluable opportunity to boost Alaskan and Chinese economic cooperation.

“It was received extremely well,” said Gov. Walker. “When we went to Ali Baba… there was a lot of interest in some of the products represented on our trip. Also, we are the fifth-busiest cargo hub in the world so we have an opportunity to ship back seafood and other commodities directly to China, only seven and a half hours away.”

China is already Alaska’s top trading partner and has committed to taking part in a massive pipeline project. But the geographical proximity and synergistic economic needs of China, the world’s most populous nation, and Alaska, one of the most resource rich and untapped areas on earth, mean there is plenty of room to grow commercial relationships.

During the trade mission, Alaskan companies from sectors as wide ranging as food, craft beer, fisheries, minerals, timber, tourism, Olympic training, and resource management took part in the various meetings to learn more about the Chinese market and gain personal connections.

Concrete deals were also reached. Alaska Pacific University signed an MOU with Heilongjiang Province to cooperate on training athletes for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Likewise, the Explore Fairbanks destination marketing and management organization signed an agreement with East West Marketing to manage and promote tourism in China for the city of Fairbanks and the surrounding region. According to Gov. Walker, important progress was also made in securing a direct China-Alaska flight, and meetings were held with Chinese oil company Sinopec, a key partner in the gasline project.  

“I believe that business with China will blossom, and we will all benefit from it,” said Larry Cash, CEO of RIM Architects. 

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