Adélie Penguins at sunset on Avian Island. Photo courtesy Anne Schaefer/for The Cordova Times
Adélie Penguins gather on Avian Island, Antarctica at sunset in December 2019. Photo courtesy Anne Schaefer for The Cordova Times

Disclaimer: Rachel Kallander is the owner and publisher of The Cordova Times. 

Legislation introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Angus Kong, I-Maine, as The Nordic Trader and Investor Parity Act, would expand access to trade and investment visas for Icelanders. The two senators are the co-chairs of the Senate Arctic Caucus. 

About 20% of Iceland’s total trade in goods and services is with the United States, Iceland’s largest trade partner, yet Iceland is the only Nordic country whose nationals are not eligible for American treaty trader and investor visas. 

Treaty trader (E-1) and treaty investor (E-2) visas are temporary nonimmigrant visas for nationals of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation. These visas were created to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and other countries. 

“Iceland and Alaska have many shared interests,” Murkowski said, in a news release on Oct. 4. “It is long past time that the people of Iceland are able to share in trade and investment opportunities in the United States. Opening up economic visas for Icelanders will allow our Arctic neighbors to bring the innovations they are making in energy capture, ocean sciences, and sustainable fisheries to Alaska and the Lower 48.”  

King also urged solidifying ties with America’s allies.  


“The Nordic Trader and Investor Parity Act would increase access to trade and investment visas for Icelanders looking to do business in the United States while increasing our country’s economic footprint in the Arctic nation,” he said.  

Rachel Kallander, the honorary consul of Iceland for Alaska, is traveling to Reykjavik in the coming week for the 2023 Arctic Circle Assembly, a network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic and the planet. She is one of several speakers, along with Jackie Qatalina Schaefer of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, in a panel on Alaska’s role in U.S. Arctic Leadership on Thursday, Oct. 19. 

Kallander is also the executive director of Arctic Encounter, the nation’s largest annual Arctic policy.  

She said she was “thrilled by the positive news” about the new legislation before Congress.  

“This bill is a significant step forward. Expanding access to trade and investment visas for Icelanders opens the doors to economic opportunities that will benefit Iceland and Alaska,” she said. “This legislation paves a path for Icelanders to bring their expertise and innovations in energy capture, ocean sciences, and sustainable fisheries to Alaska and the Lower 48. These shared interests and greater collaboration with our Arctic neighbors will undoubtedly lead to the growth of our economies and stronger partnerships. This bill also underscores the importance of fostering strong relationships with our Arctic allies.” 

Other Alaskans on the international conference agenda on Oct. 19 include Gwen Holdmann, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in a separate panel discussion on small modular nuclear reactors in the Arctic.  

Panelists from Alaska on Friday, Oct. 20, include Brittany Smart of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Alaska Center for Energy and Power, in a panel on why infrastructure is key to resilient communities; James Powell of the University of Alaska Southeast’s Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, on the impact of cruise ship tourism on Arctic coastal communities; and Dave Benton, former chair of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and former member of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, on central Arctic Ocean opportunities for cooperation and conservation. 

Also on Oct. 20, five educators from Anchorage will make up a panel discussion on cultural equity in Arctic higher education. They include Michele Yatchmeneff, associate professor of engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA); Diane Hirshberg, of UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER); Jennifer Booz, UAA’s chief diversity officer; James Temte, research and community engagement director at Alaska Pacific University; and Christi Bell, executive director of the Business Enterprise Institute at UAA.   

Holdmann is also set to speak on Oct. 20 about nuclear power on a panel organized by ISER with Hirshberg and Smart. 

These and other Alaskan researchers and educators are slated to participate in additional panels organized by the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies, The Voice of the Arctic Inupiat, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, UAF, UAA, and the Alaska Conservation Foundation.