Walker’s trade mission highlights links to China, opportunities for Alaskans

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker peeks out for a photo after a group signs an agreement to study a partnership between China and Alaska to build a gas pipeline megaproject on Nov. 9, 2017, in Beijing, China. (Photo courtesy Alaska Governor’s Office)

This week, more than 40 Alaskans are traveling to China to talk trade.

From seafood companies to the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation and even a brewery — the group is hoping to spotlight shared interests between China and Alaska.

At the 49th State brewpub in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday, about 30 people gathered in a private room to talk about the trip, and how they’re going to woo Alaska’s largest trading partner into developing deeper ties with the state.

Representatives from more than 20 businesses, along with state officials and politicians will leave for China this weekend. There, they’ll peddle everything from baby food to seafood to tourism to Chinese consumers.

49th State Brewing Co. owners David McCarthy and Jason Motyka at their Anchorage brewpub on May 15, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. McCathy and Motyka are headed to China with a trade delegation, seeking to bring Alaska beer to Chinese stores. (Photo by Elizabeth Harball/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

They’ll also bring beer.

David McCarthy co-owns Denali Visions 3000, the corporation that owns the 49th State Brewing Co.  He is hoping to expand the brewery’s reach and get Alaska beers into Chinese hands.   

“So when we had a meeting the other day in the governor’s office with the entire group… there’s seafood companies that are going there presenting seafood and we said ‘oh, can we match up our beer?’ But how do we get it there?” McCarthy said. “So they’ve been working hand-in-hand actually to get our beer over to China to have there available for people to try as part of these events over there. So, obviously we’re extremely excited about it.”

It isn’t all just food and travel. Two potentially major infrastructure projects are also hoping to find access to oil and gas markets in China.

One is the state’s gasline development corporation.  The other is the A2A Railway Development Corporation. They’re trying to link Canada and Alaska by rail in order to bring Canadian oil sands, and potentially minerals from the Yukon to ports in Alaska — then ship them to Asia.

“From the point of view of the Asian business community, this is a great opportunity to achieve access to raw materials out of the north of Canada and Alaska,” said Peter Wallis who handles public affairs for the railway corporation.

The delegation will travel throughout China for the 10-day trip with stops in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu.

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