Gas pipeline project may protect Alaska in trade war
On Monday, China increased its tariffs on more than more than 100 U.S. products coming into the country.
The move appears to be a preemptive strike in anticipation of tax increases on Chinese steel and aluminum approved by President Donald Trump.
But Mike Navarre, commissioner of the Alaska Dept. of Commerce, says he believes Alaska's potential partnership with China on a natural gas pipeline project, Alaska LNG, may protect Alaskan products from national trade war crossfire.
"The governor's established a relationship with the Chinese and the ministers in China that maybe will help in what they look to put tariffs on," Navarre said in an interview Monday afternoon. "If they have an ongoing interest, which they're showing at this time, in Alaska's natural gas, it may help us in how they determine what products they're going to put tariffs on."
China has been Alaska's largest trading partner since 2011, according to Navarre.
A report by the US-China Business Council found that the state exports about more than $1 billion worth of goods to China every year-- most of which comes from Alaska seafood. According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, more than a third of Alaska's seafood exports are to China.
For now, China appears to be leaving Alaska seafood alone.
The list of affected products focuses primarily on meats and fruits, but it also includes steel and aluminum products-- fortunately, none of which are Alaska products.
"Rather than getting concerned, we just try and monitor it and see where the impacts are going to lie. And for everybody, including Alaska, it's largely a wait and see what happens next," Navarre noted.
Gov. Bill Walker is planning a trip to China next month to try to boost trade relations with the country. Navarre says, at this point, he doesn't believe that national trade negotiations will negatively impact Alaska's relationship with China.
Steve Quinn contributed to this report.
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