Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma Yun's plan to support 1 million small businesses in the U.S. is a win-win situation for both countries. The cooperation will not only creates jobs in the U.S., but will also offer more choices for consumers in the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, as well as help domestic e-commerce business expand into the global markets, experts said.
The comments came after the Chinese e-commerce giant businessman met with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Ma discussed the growth momentum of small Chinese firms and the country's new consumption patterns, and noted that China is transforming from a manufacturing country into a consumption country, which offers great opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and consumers in the U.S., according to a statement Alibaba sent to the Global Times Tuesday.
Ma told reporters after the meeting that "we specifically talked about ... supporting 1 million small businesses, especially in the Midwest of America. Small businesses on the platform selling products - agricultural products and America services - to China and Asia."
Alibaba confirmed with the Global Times on Tuesday that it plans to hold a summit in the U.S. Midwest with 15,000 to 20,000 small businesses. The company did not release other details about the plan.
By supporting small businesses in the U.S., Alibaba will help U.S. SMEs sell products and services via its e-commerce platforms, including taobao.com, tmall.com, ju.taobao.com and aliexpress.com in China and Southeast Asia, Liu Jianying, an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times Tuesday.
The rising Chinese middle class, with a similar number of people as in the U.S., has an increasing demand for imported food, garments and daily necessities, and in the next decade, that the number will increase by about 500 million in China, Liu said. "Alibaba has its unique advantage over other e-commerce platforms thanks to its large consumer base."
It is hard to predict the exact number of jobs that Ma will create in the U.S., said Zhuang Rui, deputy dean of the Institute of International Economics at Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics.
Zhuang told the Global Times on Tuesday that "the meeting sends a positive signal that needs to be highly valued because it will become a new way to influence the bilateral economic and trade ties in the future."
Liu noted that economic and trade cooperation, the ballast stone of Sino-U.S. relations, is undergoing a multidimensional development, not only via governments, but also through non-government exchanges. "Cross-border e-commerce business is a bridge in the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries," she said.
Industrial and commercial enterprises always have sharp eyes and they have grasped that the U.S. and China, the world's largest and second-largest economies, are complementary in economic growth and have great potential for cooperation, noted Xu Hongcai, deputy chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchange.
"Born an entrepreneur, Trump has sensed the opportunity and held talks with Chinese enterprisers before taking office," Xu told the Global Times Tuesday.
The meeting will facilitate opportunities for the two countries brought about by the Internet, and will create a level playing field and involve more SMEs in expanding business via innovation and technology improvement in global markets, according to Liu.
"Trump is quite practical and he has never shut the door on cooperation with China," Xu said, noting that "the meeting is a good beginning, and further cooperation in other sectors like finance is also be expected."
If China and the U.S. get involved in a trade war or a currency war, both sides would suffer great losses, according to Xu.
"Trump would not allow this to happen and he will strive to earn favorable conditions for the U.S. Trump will absolutely put U.S. interests first," Xu said.
However, such cooperation will not change the nature of Sino-U.S. economic and trade relations, and China should pay much attention to measures rolled out by the U.S. toward China's trade and investment in the future, according to Zhuang.
China is expected to be fully prepared and to work out effective countermeasures, Zhuang said.
Trump has previously threatened to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese products, reports said.