Executive Chairman of Alibaba Jack Ma attended a meeting with president-elect Donald Trump Monday and laid out the e-commerce giant’s plan to bring one million small businesses in the U.S. on to the Chinese company’s platform to sell to consumers in China over the upcoming five years.
Alibaba Group Holding expects the new initiative to create over one million new jobs in the U.S. as each business adds a new position, said a spokesperson for the company during a phone interview.
Alibaba previously had campaigned to bring small businesses from the U.S. onto the platform of the company, but this marks the first occasion in which Ma discussed specific targets.
Ma and Trump left the Trump Tower where the meeting was held together. Trump then told reporters the meeting between the two was great and the two would be doing great things together. That was followed by Ma calling Trump both open-minded and smart.
Ma said the discussion between the two was mainly about supporting small business especially across the Midwest and mentioned small clothing makers and farmers, who could enter the market in China directly through Alibaba, whose online Tmall shopping platform gives users virtual store fronts as well as payment portals for merchants.
The company in the past few years has aggressively courted foreign brands to set up stores on Tmall to sell to the large and growing middle class in China through offering to smooth out sales, payments as well as shipping processes in China.
Ma, a citizen of China, appears often with leaders from the Communist Party’s highest echelons and both have voiced admirations and support for one another.
China was a target of Trump often during his election campaign. He blamed Beijing for job losses in the U.S. and vowed to impose a tariff of 45% on imports from China. He promised as well to call China a manipulator of currency the first day he is in office.
Alibaba and the government of China have deep ties as they have worked closely on some of the core technology goals of the country including big data and cloud infrastructure.
Close to 7,000 brands in the U.S. including Costco Wholesale and Levi’s currently are on the Tmall in Alibaba, said a spokesperson for the e-commerce giants.
Last year, those companies made over $15 billion worth of sale to consumer in China, the spokesperson added.
However, some of the foreign retailers on Tmall have not had success. Coach the maker of luxury handbags closed its store recently on the platform.