Gov. Bill Walker wants to send a trade mission to China this spring. He says it’s time to use’s the state’s strong export relationship as a springboard to greater things. 

China has been Alaska’s largest international trade partner for the last seven years. Last year, Alaska businesses exported $1.3 billion in goods to China. That includes nearly $800 million in seafood.

But, Walker says the state can do better, and he’s looking for Alaska companies willing to join a trade mission in May.

“Many of you heard me say every time I would go into Gov. (Wally) Hickel’s office, he would take me to the globe and say, 'look at Alaska from the top down,'" Walker said in a news conference Monday morning. "I ask every Alaskan to do that. If you look at Alaska for the top down, you see Asia."

In this case, Walker’s focus is China. He’s hosted Chinese delegations, including China’s President Xi, whom he has also visited in China.

The mission would cost each participant $3000 to cover logistics and meeting arrangements. Travel expenses will be separate.

Leading the mission will be Commerce Commissioner Mike Navarre and International Trade Director Shelley James.

The trade mission is open to Alaska companies looking to expand their business in China. Businesses should also be looking to meet with Chinese investors with a specific project or be ready to promote new deals.

Several Chinese firms have already agreed to help Alaska advance its liquefied natural gas export project.

Applications to join the mission are due April 2.

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