Gov. Bill Walker and businesses from around Alaska are headed to China as part of a week-long trade show called Opportunity Alaska. 

Representatives of 26 Alaska organizations from Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Mat-Su Borough will accompany Walker and members of his administration to meet with Chinese officials.

The delegation represents a wide range of Alaska firms, including Alaska Native corporations and members of the education, tourism, seafood, beer and baby-food industries.

"It's an opportunity for our seafood industry to work with the seafood marketers and buyers in China. It's an opportunity for our agricultural piece to interact with the agricultural market in China. You know, it's a matter of oil and gas, mining," Walker said in an interview about the trip Tuesday. "Tourism is going to be a tremendous part of the trip, getting direct flights coming to Alaska. I'm absolutely convinced that from Asia to Alaska will be equivalent of what the cruise ship industry has done in Alaska." 

China is already Alaska's top export partner, a partnership Walker says he aims to strengthen through the mission. While the trip is designed to showcase potential trade opportunities in Alaska and highlight Alaska's strategic position as the closest U.S. state to China, Walker says Opportunity Alaska is about building something bigger.

"It's about relationships as well, and so I think building on the relationship that I've had with President Xi (Jinping), that we have with our cabinet, I want to make sure that Alaskans have that same opportunity. So that then they can work industry to industry," Walker said.

The trade mission runs through Saturday, May 26. If all goes well, Walker says he hopes to hold similar events in Japan and Korea.

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