Alibaba Pledges to Im­port $200B in Goods

The com­pany’s pledge fol­lows founder Jack Ma’s com­ments that the trade war is “the most stupid thing in the world.”

WWD Digital Daily - - Wwd - BY TIF­FANY AP

BEI­JING — Alibaba Group has promised to im­port $200 bil­lion worth of goods from more than 120 coun­tries over the next five years, shoring up the stance of founder Jack Ma and Chi­nese pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping who both heav­ily crit­i­cized the trade war with the U.S.

The com­pany said so Tues­day at the in­au­gu­ral China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai, a week­long event aimed at pro­mot­ing in­ter­na­tional trade and was opened by Xi on Mon­day. In his open­ing speech, Xi sig­naled he would lower im­port tar­iffs and lower other bar­ri­ers for for­eign firms to do busi­ness with China, although time­line and specifics were not de­tailed.

“Glob­al­iza­tion is one of Alibaba’s most crit­i­cal long-term growth strate­gies. We are build­ing the fu­ture in­fra­struc­ture of com­merce to re­al­ize a glob­al­ized dig­i­tal econ­omy where trade is pos­si­ble for ev­ery coun­try around the world,” Daniel Zhang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Alibaba Group, said in the an­nounce­ment. “Lev­er­ag­ing Alibaba’s in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy and ro­bust ecosys­tem, we are com­mit­ted to mak­ing global trade more in­clu­sive and ful­fill­ing our mis­sion ‘to make it easy to do busi­ness any­where’ in the dig­i­tal era.”

Be­tween 2019 and 2023, the com­pany said, Alibaba will help im­port in­ter­na­tional goods high­light­ing in par­tic­u­lar Ger­many, Ja­pan, Aus­tralia, the U.S. and South Korea.

A day ear­lier, Ma con­demned the trade war with the U.S.

“Trade war is the most stupid thing in this world,” Ma said on a panel. “Trade is for the peace, trade is to com­mu­ni­cate. There will be no trade deficit is­sue in the next twenty years be­cause of tech­nol­ogy. No­body can stop free trade.”

The trade war be­tween the U.S. and China is start­ing to show up in cer­tain key in­di­ca­tors. At 6.5 per­cent, the Chi­nese econ­omy ex­panded at its weak­est pace since 2009 in the first three quar­ters of 2018. Within that, re­tail sales were up

9.3 per­cent, but below the 10.4 per­cent in­crease seen a year ear­lier.

The just con­cluded Can­ton Fair, the largest trade show in China, showed that or­ders to the U.S., its largest out­bound mar­ket, had dropped 30.3 per­cent from a year ago to $2.8 bil­lion, shrink­ing the to­tal fair’s turnover to $29.9 bil­lion, down 1 per­cent.

Joint re­search by Deloitte China, the China Cham­ber of In­ter­na­tional Com­merce, and AliRe­search showed that the Chi­nese cross-bor­der e- com­merce mar­ket has grown re­mark­ably, with the pro­por­tion of im­ports to to­tal e- com­merce sales grow­ing from 1.6 per­cent in 2014 to 10.2 per­cent in 2017. In the same pe­riod, the num­ber of shop­pers on Alibaba’s ded­i­cated plat­form for cross-bor­der shop­ping, Tmall Global, has grown ten­fold.

China hosts its in­au­gu­ral In­ter­na­tionalIm­port Expo in Shang­hai.

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