Hear from Alaska's leaders on changes to U.S. trade policies

Published: Jan. 15, 2020 at 6:34 PM AKST
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Since the U.S. and China signed what is being referred to as "Phase One" of a new trade agreement, Alaskan leadership has been optimistic that the new set of rules could bring more commerce to the state. Some details of the plan include promises from China to spend $52 billion on energy related exports and $32-$40 billion on agricultural goods from U.S. sources. That means Alaska's seafood, oil and timber industry could benefit from the terms agreed upon by both countries.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have both reacted positively to the signing of the deal through written statements. Murkowski's response to the deal highlighted Alaska's strategic advantage as a major air cargo hub, and the fact that about 60 percent of Alaska's seafood is already exported to China- worth $800 million to the state's fishing industry. Sullivan also applauded the president, alongside U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for working to reset America's economic relationship with China.

"Importantly, it is positive news for Alaska’s fishermen,” Sullivan added.

Along with the changes to U.S. trade policies in Chinese Markets, the Senate also passed President Trump's revamped version of NAFTA on Thursday. It it officially called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or "USMCA" for short. Alaska's senators both voted in favor of the new trade pact, with Murkowski citing the fact that Alaska exported $680 million of goods to Canada and Mexico in 2018. As a result of Sullivan's 2018 Save Our Seas (SOS) Act, the USMCA pact is one of the first U.S. trade agreements to specifically contain language regarding the prevention of marine debris.

Original Story Posted Jan 16, 2019

Appearing on Wednesday at the Alaska Petroleum Club of Anchorage, Governor Mike Dunleavy fielded a wide range of questions before the upcoming legislative session begins next week. He prefaced it all with a topic that would be a focus during much of his address: The newly signed, U.S./China trade agreement.

The deal covers the next two years and partially lays the groundwork for commerce between two of the largest markets on the globe. One condition of the agreement is that China will purchase $200 billion worth of U.S. goods, over the next two years. Each year, $40 billion of that money will be designated directly to purchasing agricultural goods. According to Dunleavy, this means that Alaska's fisheries and timber industry should prepare to see an uptick in business.

There are still some questions about which goods will qualify under the terms laid out by China and the U.S. As far as timber goes, Dunleavy says this could be a great starting point for conversations about logging in Tongass National Forest. The governor's team was not able to provide specific information about how the deal might impact the trade of one of Alaska's biggest resources, Salmon, but- they are working to determine which fisheries might be set to gain from the deal.

"We're working through the details and it's our understanding that pollock might not be included in that," Dunleavy said, "... but we have to take a look and verify that. My people are working on it and the people in the fishing industry in the state of Alaska are looking at it."

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