China’s middle class reportedly loves Alaskan fish. The country became the state’s biggest trading partner for the first time in 2011, reported the Alaska Dispatch.
China, the most populated country on the globe, spent $1.4 billion on Alaska fish, logs and minerals last year, or about $1 for each of its 1.3 billion residents, the newspaper reported. And the majority of that is owed to Alaska’s fishing industry, which more than doubled its exports to China from 2009 at $420 million to 2011 at $836 million.
The cost of fish has risen thanks to improved quality, stemming from faster transport involving rapid icing after harvest, Patricia Eckert, Alaska’s associate director for international trade, told the Dispatch.
China’s $518 million surge in exports—a 56 percent increase—knocked the former pack leader Japan out of the water as Alaska’s top trading partner. In 2011, Japan imported $1.1 billion in Alaska products, a number that has remained relatively steady over the past decade.
Alaska exports to more than 20 overseas countries reached a record $5.2 billion last year, up $1 billion from 2010.