Alibaba Boss Jack Ma met US President-elect Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump to talk about putting a million small US businesses onto his platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years.
Alibaba thinks it can create a million US jobs as each company adds a position. Alibaba has previously campaigned to bring more small US businesses onto the company’s sites, but this is the first time Ma has discussed specific targets.
Trump and Ma emerged from their meeting at Trump Tower in New York together. The president-elect told reporters they had a “great meeting” and would do great things together. Ma called Trump “smart” and “open-minded”.
Ma said small businesses, especially in the Midwest, such as farmers and small clothing makers, who could tap the Chinese market directly through Alibaba, whose Tmall online shopping platform offers virtual store fronts and payment portals to merchants. Apparently foreign brands do well selling their stuff to China’s vast and growing middle class by offering to smoothen out Chinese sales, payment and shipping processes.
Ma gets on rather well with the Chinese authorities which is more than can be said for Trump. During the election he often targeted China and blaimed it for US job losses and vowing to impose 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports.
About 7,000 U.S. brands including wholesaler Costco Wholesale and apparel seller Levi’s currently sit on Alibaba’s Tmall, an Alibaba spokeswoman said. They made $15 billion in sales to Chinese consumers last year.
There is also the small matter of an ongoing US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Alibaba’s accounting practices. However Trump’s top choice for the incoming head of the commission is Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton who happened to work on Alibaba’s initial public offering so we guess that means it will go through now.