Jack Ma, the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Holding (NYSE: BABA), promised to Donald Trump that his company would create one million new jobs in the United States over the next five years.
The U.S. President-elect met Ma at the Trump Tower in New York on Monday. Their meeting lasted about 40 minutes.
Alibaba to support small businesses
“We’re focused on small business. We specifically talked about supporting one million small businesses especially in the Midwest America to sell products and services on our platform to China and Asia, especially Southeast Asia where we are pretty big,” said Ma to reporters after his meeting with Trump.
“We also think that the China and USA relationship should be strengthened — should be more friendly. The door is open [for] discussing the relationship and trade issues. I think the President-elect is very smart, very open-minded. I told him my ideas about how to improve trade. [Trump] has concerns, and he has solutions, that he wants to discuss with China and us,” added Ma.
In a separate statement, Alibaba said enabling one million American small businesses and farmers sell their goods to Asian consumers on its platform could create a million jobs in the United States.
There are approximately ten million merchants selling products to Chinese consumers and are responsible for creating more than 30 million jobs in China alone.
The Chinese e-commerce giant believes that China should be an attractive market for small companies in the United States given its size, rising consumption, and increasing interests in American products among young people. Alibaba also noted that China has more than 300 million middle-class consumers and the number is growing.
Trump praised Ma as a “great entrepreneur”
On the other hand, Trump said he had a “great meeting” with Mr. Ma and praised him as a “great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world. The U.S. President-elect also noted that the Alibaba Executive Chairman loves the the United States and China.
“Jack and I are going to do great things for small business,” said Trump.
During the campaign, Trump frequently blamed China for the job losses in the country. He vowed to implement 45% tariffs on Chinese products.
Duncan Clark, the Chairman of BDA China, an investment advisory firm, told Reuters that Trump’s meeting with Ma is “important given the anti-China rhetoric that has been coming out. He said, “There’s nothing to lose in talking about what they’re trying to do here which is stimulate demand in China.”
Clark also stated that Ma’s prediction that Alibaba’s platform could help create one million jobs in the U.S. “requires a big effort” and “no one who could prove or disprove how likely that’s going to be.”