Alibaba on the right side of trade war, says exec

Alibaba executive chairman Joe Tsai told analysts the company’s position as “China’s number-one platform for overseas brands” puts it on the right side of the trade war between the US and China.

While discussing the group’s recent full-year results, which saw Alibaba grow revenue 51 per cent during the year to March 31, 2019, to $81 billion (RMB376.8 billion) and net income 31 per cent to $16.8 billion (RMB80.2 billion), Tsai said he wanted to address the “elephant in the room”.

“First, the reduction of the US trade deficit. China’s commitment to purchase more American products means China will over the next several years become a net importing country,” Tsai said.

“We are the platform of choice for global producers of products and brands selling into China because we have the reach and deep insights on over 650 million active Chinese consumers on our platform. The scale and effectiveness of our access to Chinese consumers is simply unrivaled.”

Alibaba’s active customers grew to 654 million over the year to March 31, 2019 – an increase of 104 million year on year.

Tsai said the ongoing trade negotiations also create an opportunity for other markets to do more foreign business within China, satisfying growing demand from the Chinese public as the country’s economy shifts from an “export economy to a domestic consumption economy”.

“As we look at the evolution of the Chinese economy, Alibaba is on the right side of all of the issues,” Tsai said.

Alibaba was recently ranked as the world’s most valuable retail brand outside of the US by research firm Kantar earlier this week, which valued the brand at $189.5 billion (US$131.2 billion) in 2019, up 48 per cent on 2018.

Partly, this was due to the group’s New Retail strategy, which this year saw Alibaba partner with Starbucks to enable on-demand coffee delivery across 35 cities throughout China.

“If you want to see the future of retail, look to China,” the report said.

“In many ways, it is leading the world… Chinese consumers are using mobile in every aspect of their lives.”

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