KTVA: 'This is worrisome,' Murkowski on Chinese sanctions to Alaska seafood
China is slated to impose a 25 percent tariff on U.S. seafood -- including Alaska's -- by the end of this week, as part of increasingly heated trade negotiations between the two nations.
According to a recent report by the McDowell Group, seafood is Alaska's second largest employer -- with 41,200 jobs created by the $2.1 billion industry. China is the state's largest trading partner.
"This is worrisome, we'll work this through with the administration," Sen. Lisa Murkowski said of the sanctions, set to take effect on Friday, July 6.
Murkowski was in Anchorage Monday with U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, as part of his tour around the state.
While worried about seafood, Murkowski said she is encouraged that China isn't going after natural gas. In April, Gov. Bill Walker's administration hoped the state's potential partnership with China on a natural gas pipeline project could protect the state in a national trade war. But this latest threat to seafood indicates that may not be the case.
"It does raise a question about how they view what Alaska has available in terms of trade," Murkowski said.
While in Alaska this weekend, Acosta visited a fishery in King Salmon.
"We're in the process of looking at rebalancing, there's certainly a focus on jobs, and at the end of the day, the focus is going to be on creating as many jobs here for Alaskans and for Americans as possible," Acosta said of the new Chinese sanctions. "I'm confident that at the end of the day all will be fine."
In May, Walker and a fleet of local businesses, including several seafood processors, set out on a trade mission to China. KTVA reached out to Gov. Walker's office for comment on the tariff increases on Monday, but a spokesperson said the governor was unavailable.
As tensions rise between the two nations, Alaska leaders are still hoping China will see the state as an exceptional partner.