File Photo: Sockeye salmons are seen in Bristol Bay, Alaska, in an undated handout picture provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Xinhua/REUTERS)
SAN FRANCISCO, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Alaska officials and business leaders highlighted China's increasing importance to the U.S. northwest state as China has been its biggest trade partner for years, the KTUU TV channel said over the weekend.
Alaska has traded heavily with China and sold lots of commodities to Chinese consumers, such as timber, lead and gold mineral ores, as well as petroleum, state officials said.
Among them, seafood is the biggest export item by far. "Seafood comprised almost 60 percent of that (Alaska's total exports to China), so almost 800 million dollars worth of Alaska seafood (are) going to China," KTUU quoted Nicole Kimball, vice president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, as saying.
"That's probably in the realm every year of 800 million to 900 million pounds (about 363 million to 408 million kilograms)," said Nicole Kimball.
In 2017, Alaska exported 1.32 billion dollars worth of goods to China, or about 26 percent of Alaska's total exports to the world market valuing 4.93 billion dollars, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division.
Sarah Leonard, an official with the Alaska Travel Industry Association, said Chinese tourists contribute a lot to Alaska's economy as they tend to stay longer and spend more than tourists from other countries.
Chinese travelers represent about 3 percent of Alaska's tourism market, and more are coming each year, she said.
They tend to travel in the off season, and this offers a boost to local tourism businesses, Leonard explained.
"Alaska is just scratching the surface of the Chinese market, and looking for opportunities to create more revenue and opportunities for Alaska businesses," she said.