Jack Ma speaks in New York

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chinadailyusa.com

Alibaba’s Jack Ma said that the fu­ture of the e-com­merce gi­ant is to go global, open­ing up its plat­form to en­able more US small busi­nesses to sell di­rectly to China’s mid­dle-class con­sumers.

The com­pany’s chair­man and founder said that Alibaba’s goal is “not only to sell more things”, but to glob­al­ize the in­fra­struc­ture of e-com­merce.

“Why did In­ter­net e-com­merce grow so much faster in China than in the USA?” he said on Tues­day. “Be­cause the in­fra­struc­ture of com­merce in China was bad. Un­like here, where you have all the (phys­i­cal) shops: Wal-Mart, K-Mart, ev­ery­thing, ev­ery­where. But in China, we have noth­ing, nowhere. So e-com­merce in the US is just a dessert; it’s com­ple­men­tary to the main busi­ness. But in China, it’s the main course.”

Ma made his re­marks about the com­pany’s fu­ture be­fore an au­di­ence of about 1,000 mem­bers of The Eco­nomic Club of New York at the Wal­dorf As­to­ria New York. He was in­tro­duced by Wil­liam Dud­ley, chair­man of The Eco­nomic Club and pres­i­dent and CEO of the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank of New York.

Ma, who founded his com­pany in 1999 out of his apart­ment in Hangzhou, said that Alibaba is on tar­get to sell $1 tril­lion worth of goods within the next five years. Alibaba’s gross mer­chan­dise vol­ume for the year through March 2015 was about $393 bil­lion, an in­crease of 46 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous year.

He em­pha­sized that small busi­nesses in the US were the path to growth for the com­pany, lur­ing them to­wards China’s mid­dle class, which to­day is al­most as big as Amer­ica’s en­tire pop­u­la­tion, and in a decade will grow to half a bil­lion peo­ple.

“The de­mand for good prod­ucts, good ser­vice, is so pow­er­ful, so strong,” he said, adding that only 2 per­cent of Alibaba’s busi­ness is con­ducted out­side of China and he hopes it will grow to 40 per­cent.

Ma said that Alibaba can help an­other 10 mil­lion busi­nesses through its e-com­merce plat­form. “We will em­power them, give them the traf­fic, give them the pay­ment sys­tem, give them the lo­gis­tics, so that they can do busi­ness any­where, eas­ily,” he said.

The com­pany wants to pro­vide cus­tomers 72-hour ship­ping for those pur­chas­ing from out­side of China and 24-hour de­liv­ery for those within the coun­try.

China, he said, has been fo­cused on ex­port­ing for the last 20 years, but should now fo­cus on im­port­ing and mak­ing more pur­chases.

“China should learn to buy. Chi­nese should spend money. China should buy a lot of things,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to com­pany fig­ures, cross-bor­der trans­ac­tions by Chi­nese on­line shop­pers grew 10-fold be­tween 2010 and 2014, from $2 bil­lion to $20 bil­lion. There are about 331 mil­lion Chi­nese on­line shop­pers in China, and e-com­merce is ex­pected to ac­count for more than 20 per­cent of Chi­nese con­sump­tion by decade’s end.

AMY HE / CHINA DAILY

Jack Ma, Alibaba chair­man and founder, gives re­marks at the Wal­dorf As­to­ria in New York on Tues­day be­fore mem­bers of The Eco­nomic Club of New York. Ma spoke of the im­por­tance of tak­ing Alibaba’s busi­ness global.

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