China's booming economy could help Alaska exports

Posted: Sunday, January 05, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The booming Chinese economy and development in the Pacific Rim could be just what's needed to increase Alaska's exports in the coming year, federal and state trade officials say.

Trade revenues are projected at $2.6 billion, about 10 percent of the state's income, for 2002. The same is expected to hold true for this year, when trade could generate between $2.6 billion and $2.65 billion, said Greg Wolf, the director of the Division of International Trade and Market Development.

''All-in-all, I think we're ending up the year on a pretty good note,'' Wolf said. ''When weighing the strengths and weaknesses of our markets and exports, we're projecting that 2003 should only go up.''

China is expected to lead the way in that increase, said Chuck Becker, the director of the Alaska Export Assistance Center. ''China has enormous potential for us,'' he said.

Wolf noted that the Eastern nation's projected annual growth -- estimated at 7 to 8 percent for the foreseeable future -- could mean new opportunities for Alaska's faltering fish markets.

Through the third quarter of 2002, Alaska seafood exports to all markets were up about 12.5 percent and represent more than $1 billion of the projected trade revenues, Wolf said.

''It's encouraging that the international market is interested in the Alaska seafood industry,'' Wolf said. ''We look to China to keep growing. It's going to be an increasingly important market in terms of seafood exports.''

China is currently Alaska's fifth-largest trading partner, but Wolf predicted that the country will move to fourth by the end of the year, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

Japan and Canada also ranked among the state's strongest exchanges, and economic growth of 5 percent to 6 percent in South Korea could provide new opportunities for Alaska's exporters in the coming year.

Trade revenues from minerals and refined fuel products also increased over calendar year 2001, Wolf said.

Fertilizer and wood products rounded out the state's top five exports for 2002, but both registered decreased numbers from the previous year.

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