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Begich Named to China Exchange Group to Advance US-China Trade

Increasing trade to U.S. and Alaska a top priority

With plans to expand Alaska exports to China even further, U.S. Senator Mark Begich has been named chair of the U.S.-China Inter-Parliamentary Group (IPG), a bipartisan Senate organization designed to enhance relations between the U.S. and China.

As chair for the next two years, Begich’s top priority is advancing trade between the two nations. China recently overcame Japan as Alaska’s top exporter, buying $1.3 billion worth of Alaska seafood, minerals, forest products and fishmeal last year.

“With Alaska’s economy tied to international trade more than most states, I look forward to working with members of China’s national parliament to increase fair and open trade between our nations,” Begich said. “Improving relationships between American and Chinese national officials should help resolve our differences on issues such as human rights and religious freedom and trade policy.”

The IPG oversees meetings with American senators and their Chinese counterparts, hosting visits in each country during a two-year period. Begich said he expects Chinese parliamentarians to visit Washington, D.C., later this year.

Begich takes over the post from Washington Sen. Patty Murray, who chaired the group the past two years. Begich also was recently named to The President’s Export Council, a national advisory board to the president to promote American exports. In that position, he joins 19 leading corporate leaders, a handful of other members of Congress and top cabinet officers including the secretaries of State, Treasury, Commerce, Energy and Agriculture.

Alaska exports topped $5 billion in 2011, with seafood, minerals, forest products and precious metals leading the way of products sold abroad. Alaska exports to China have skyrocketed from $103 million in 2000 to nearly $1.5 billion in 2011, creating jobs for Alaskans.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Begich has worked in the Senate to increase foreign sales of U.S. products and encourage more international travelers to the U.S.

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