Taobao de­fended

Alibaba ‘very dis­ap­pointed’ by US trade la­bel >

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HE WEI in Shang­hai hewei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

E-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd has hit out at a US de­ci­sion to la­bel it a haven for coun­ter­feits, in­di­cat­ing that the move may have been po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

The world’s top on­line re­tailer said on Thurs­day it was “very dis­ap­pointed” by the de­ci­sion to be re­stored to the list of “No­to­ri­ous Mar­kets”, af­ter the US Of­fice of the Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive cited a high level of al­leged piracy and coun­ter­feit­ing.

“We are very dis­ap­pointed by the USTR’s de­ci­sion to in­clude Taobao on its ‘No­to­ri­ous Mar­kets’ list, which ig­nores the real work Alibaba has done against counter- feits,” Alibaba Pres­i­dent Michael Evans said.

In 2016 alone, Taobao, the cus­tomer-to-cus­tomer plat­form, has re­moved more than dou­ble the num­ber of in­fring­ing prod­uct list­ings than it did in 2015, Evans said.

“Our re­sults speak for them­selves. Un­for­tu­nately, the USTR’s de­ci­sion leads us to ques­tion whether it acted based on the ac­tual facts or was in­flu­enced by the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate,” Evans said.

Alibaba said in a state­ment that the list will not dampen its fight against the fake.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said: “The two coun­tries should pro­vide a fair and im­par­tial trade en­vi­ron­ment for the ac­tiv­i­ties of each other’s com­pa­nies.”

The “No­to­ri­ous Mar­kets” list is un­der the aus­pices of the an­nual Spe­cial 301 process where Washington iden­ti­fies trade bar­ri­ers due to in­fringe­ments of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, ac­cord­ing to Cat­ter Hu, a part­ner at Shang­hai Jiehua Law Firm.

“While the re­port mainly tar­gets com­pa­nies and does not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect Washington’s view on re­spec­tive coun­tries, it’s likely to dampen Alibaba’s rep­u­ta­tion in the US, where it has been try­ing to build up ties with re­tail­ers,” Hu said.

How­ever, this year’s re­view also in­cluded a call for the Chi­nese govern­ment to take stronger mea­sures on IPR re­forms, a clear sign that po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions are get­ting in the way of busi­ness, said Zhao Ping, deputy di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Academy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion un­der the Min­istry of Com­merce.

De­spite all of its ef­forts, the com­pany finds it­self listed along with 10 other Chi­nese web­sites and bricks-and­mor­tar mar­kets in the list, deal­ing a fur­ther blow to its over­seas ex­pan­sion, ac­cord­ing to Yang Yaqiong, a se­nior an­a­lyst at Bei­jing-based Analysys.

“It’s more pol­i­tics than any­thing else. If you read through the re­port, you see a rather neg­a­tive tone to­ward the Chi­nese mar­ket at large,” said Yang.

... it’s likely to dampen Alibaba’s rep­u­ta­tion in the US ...” Cat­ter Hu, part­ner of Shang­hai Jiehua Law Firm

Wang Qingyun in Bei­jing con­trib­uted to this story.

XU KANGPING / FOR CHINA DAILY

A woman tries an Alibaba VR de­vice dur­ing a shop­ping spree in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong prov­ince.

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