Alibaba chairman Jack Ma met with President-elect Donald Trump on Monday and discussed plans to create 1 million new US jobs by helping small businesses sell to China.
While Trump has been harshly critical of China, he praised China's richest man on Monday, according to a Bloomberg report. "Jack and I are going to do some great things together," Trump said.
Cloud provider Alibaba wants to be the principal destination for connecting international retailers with Chinese consumers, adding 1 million small and mid-sized US businesses and farmers to Alibaba Group platforms, and estimating each one will hire a new person as a result of the added business, Bloomberg said.
However, if Trump raises tariffs from China to the US -- as he has said he will do -- that will make it harder for Chinese businesses to sell to US consumers, Bloomberg notes.
The promise by Alibaba to create jobs was "bold, if vague," says The Wall Street Journal, adding:
Alibaba is akin to eBay in that it primarily serves as a platform where businesses can sell goods online. That differs from Amazon.com Inc., which sells its own inventory as well as brokers sales for third parties.
Open trade between the U.S. and China is critical for Alibaba’s success. The company says its top objective in the U.S. is to get local businesses onto the platform so they can access Chinese consumers, rather than convince American consumers to buy from Chinese retailers. In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal in 2015, Mr. Ma said, "We want to connect small businesses in the West with the largest, fastest-growing market in the East."
Mr. Ma's meeting with Mr. Trump echoes a meeting SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son held with the president-elect in December. At that meeting, Mr. Son promised to steer $50 billion of an investment fund into U.S. companies and create 50,000 jobs.