Alaska State Governor Bill Walker's upcoming trade mission to China in May will present an opportunity for the U.S. state to tap China's tremendous economic potential, Alaska business leaders said Tuesday.
"Discouraging outside investment will not build a stronger Alaska, but prevent our resources getting to world markets and to Alaskans," Doug Griffin, executive director of the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, and Tim Dillion, executive director of the Kenai Economic Development District, said in their article published by the Alaska daily The Juneau Empire.
Alaska-China trade is something to value as China has been Alaska's largest export partner for the last seven years, they said.
The U.S. northwesternmost state of Alaska exported 4.93 billion U.S. dollars of goods in 2017, with over 1.32 billion dollars going to China, and "disparaging our customers shrinks our economy at a time when we desperately need growth," they asserted.
China is the biggest customer of Alaska seafood, buying over 796 million dollars last year, more than any other country and an increase of 27 percent from 2016, they said.
Alaska has profited from selling other resources to China, including over 355.8 million dollars worth of metal ores and millions of dollars of forest products in 2017.
"China's purchase of these resources adds significantly to a healthy and diversifying statewide economy across Alaska without ceding control or management of these resources," said the two business leaders.
They also mentioned an immediate increase of Chinese tourists to the U.S. state featuring its unique winter beauty after Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit with Walker last April.
Regardless of what happens at the federal level, the opportunities for Alaska and the Asian economic powerhouse to partner together are clear, they said, adding that "we envision a future where we see more and more headlines telling a positive Alaska-China story."
"China's longstanding consumption of Alaska products has been creating benefits across the state for years, and the upcoming trade mission to China is a clear opportunity for us to strengthen this bond and continue to grow our economy," said the Alaska business leaders.
Their comments came at a time when the United States and China are locked in a trade dispute after U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week his plans to impose high tariffs on up to 60 billion dollars of Chinese imports.
China responded, planning to slap retaliatory tariffs on 3-billion- dollar U.S. imports including dried fruit, wine, steel pipes, and pork products.