Amid trade tensions, Alaska’s governor plans Chinese trade mission

April 19 (UPI) — A trade mission to China will showcase the prospects for investment opportunities in Alaska, the governor of the northern U.S. state said.

Gov. Bill Walker will lead a trade mission to China starting May 19.

“The delegation will travel with a mission to empower Alaska businesses at home and abroad by reinforcing Alaska’s reputation for unique products and incredible experiences in the world’s largest consumer market,” his office stated.

The visit comes amid simmering trade tensions between the United States and China. Both sides are digging in for a trade fight that could have global economic ramifications. During meetings Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump said his government was working to offset “$500 billion of [trade] imbalance.”

Both sides have tabled tighter trade policies in the economic spat. Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said Thursday the U.S. government was shooting itself in the foot with its trade policies.

“If the United States attempts to curb China’s development and force China to make concessions by sticking to its unilateral protectionism at the cost of harming the interests of Chinese and American enterprises, it miscalculates,” he was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Chinese lenders and corporations are backing a liquefied natural gas project in Alaska. Alaska Gasline Development Corp. wants to build pipelines and associated infrastructure to process state gas into liquefied natural gas, a super-cooled form of gas that has more maneuverability than other piped resources. Last month, that Bank of China Ltd. and Goldman Sachs agreed to serve as the global capital coordinators for the project.

Cost may be an impediment to the arrangement, and China could secure LNG from cheaper reserves closer to home, notably from Australia or Qatar, which already have established LNG infrastructure.

The Anchorage Economic Development Corp., which will be represented in the trade mission, said the oil and gas sector in the state lost 4,000 jobs in the last four years.

“With significant cuts already behind this sector, slowly increasing oil prices, and growing industry optimism, AEDC anticipates employment will stabilize in 2018, remaining at about 2,600 jobs, unchanged from 2017,” its annual report read.