Alibaba chief meets with Donald Trump

jackma

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with and Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma after their meeting at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma has met US President-elect Donald Trump and laid out the Chinese e-commerce giant’s new plan to bring one million small US businesses onto its platform to sell to Chinese consumers over the next five years, an Alibaba spokesman says.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd expects the initiative to create one million US jobs as each company adds a position, company spokesman Bob Christie said in a phone call.

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 the two mainly discussed supporting 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.

The company has in recent years been aggressively courting foreign brands to set up Tmall stores to sell to China’s vast and growing middle class by offering to smoothen out Chinese sales, payment and shipping processes.

Ma, a Chinese citizen, appears frequently with leaders from the highest echelons of the Communist Party, and both sides have voiced their support and admiration for each other.

Trump often targeted China in the election campaign, blaming Beijing for US job losses and vowing to impose 45 per cent tariffs on Chinese imports. He also promised to call China a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

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