Alibaba’s Jack Ma courts US firms

Media captionAlibaba’s Jack Ma is on a mission to woo the US

Alibaba boss Jack Ma, the head of China’s largest e-commerce company, is in Detroit to woo US businesses to his platform, as China looks to replace America as the world’s largest consumer economy.

About 7,000 US brands market and sell using on Tmall, Alibaba’s marketplace, according to the company.

Mr Ma said in January he wants to attract one million US small firms.

His push comes as US President Donald Trump emphasises increasing US exports.

At a meeting with Mr Trump in January, Mr Ma said he thought the US could add one million jobs over the next five years, if he successfully attracted firms to his business.

That’s not necessarily an easy sell. The average Chinese customer still lags when it comes to spending power. Mr Ma has also faced concerns over counterfeit goods sold through his sites.

At the conference in Detroit in Wednesday, Mr Ma said Chinese families were hungry for US goods.

He said the internet empowered small businesses to benefit from globalisation and boasted of the size of China’s market of nearly 1.4 billion people.

“Please view China as an opportunity,” he said. “Don’t miss this chance.”

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Drew Angerer/Getty

Image caption

Donald Trump and Jack Ma met in January

The Detroit conference attracted brands such as Gerber, Martha Stewart and LuckyVitamin.

Alibaba is best known for its e-commerce business, which it told investors this month accounts for 11% of retail sales in China.

But its scope extends into cloud computing, logistics, media and financial services, rivalling Amazon in ambition.

The firm reported nearly $23bn in revenue for its 2017 financial year and about $6bn in profits.

Amazon, by comparison, reported nearly $136bn in revenue and $2.4bn in profits in its most recent financial year.

Mr Ma said more than 200 million people shopped via mobile phone on an Alibaba site every day.

The firm also helps deliver about 60 million packages each day – a number he expects to see jump to one billion in 10 years, he said.

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