In May, AEDC President Bill Popp joined more than two dozen Alaska companies — including half a dozen AEDC Investors — for Opportunity Alaska: China Trade Mission. China is Alaska’s largest trading partner and the trip, organized by the State of Alaska, aims to connect Alaska businesses with industry leaders, potential customers, key decision makers and government officials.

Saturday was part fun and part work for the trade mission group, with half the delegation taking a 2-hour bus ride early in the morning to Mutianyu Great Wall located in the Huairou district of Beijing. After returning to the hotel, the business part of the day began with a meeting between Governor Bill Walker and the leadership of China National Aviation Fuel (CNAF) Corporation, including CNAF President Xi Zhengping. The corporation is a Fortune 500 Global company with annual revenues of $39 billion, currently serving refueling needs at all airports in China and 59 international airports, including LAX in California.

CNAF currently provides approximately 200,000 metric tonnes of jet fuel to Chinese air cargo companies operating at Anchorage International Airport (ANC), and the corporation is very interested in expanding its business volumes at ANC. For the last two years, CNAF has been evaluating opportunities at ANC and in Alaska, including supporting direct flights between Alaska and China to offer new air cargo and tourism growth, and AEDC has recently been assisting CNAF with information, data and guidance in support of its market research and evaluation efforts.

The meeting between CNAF and Governor Walker, facilitated by AEDC, was a key step in the final phases of CNAF’s decision-making process for sanctioning a new multimillion-dollar investment in Anchorage. The meeting was very positive in tone and dialog and it is clear that CNAF is very interested in a significant investment in Anchorage. During the meeting, Mr. Xi noted that a decision on CNAF’s proposed investment will be made by the end of 2018, if not sooner. He also noted that this meeting was a significant positive step towards that decision.

Following the meeting, CNAF honored Governor Walker and the trade delegation members with a banquet — a very positive event with much toasting, excellent food and a lot of opportunities to get to know the executives of CNAF. We ended the evening with an exchange of gifts between Governor Walker and Mr. Xi and promises of follow-up visits to Anchorage by CNAF in the near future. This was another great session for the trade mission effort and a great way to end our stay in Beijing.

Sunday the delegation moves on to Shanghai for the final days of the trade mission.  This will include a beer tasting of the best of 49th State Brewing Company beers at the Daga Brewpub in Shanghai, a bus trip to Hangzhou to visit the headquarters of Alibaba, and several side meetings for members of the delegation.  I’ll update from Shanghai after the Alibaba tour on Monday.

– Bill

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