By CGTN’s Wang Duan
Jack Ma, head of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has been addressing more than 3,000 US small- and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) owners and entrepreneurs in Detroit this week, in a bid by the company to break into the US market.
At the Gateway '17 conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ma said he wanted to help American SMEs sell products to Chinese consumers. China has surpassed the US to become the largest retail market in the world. So how can a Chinese company help American producers export their goods through online shopping to China?
Among the participants in the conference was Web Smith, director of e-commerce at Gear Patrol, an independent US magazine with a tech focus. He told The Point with Liu Xin that there was real enthusiasm among the audience.
Maybe that was inspired by Ma’s loud and clear message. He said to US SMEs that “if you miss the opportunity to sell your products to China, you will miss the future.”
When Ma met with US President Donald Trump, he pledged to create one million jobs in the US and get one million SMEs enrolled on Alibaba online platforms to sell products to Asian consumers. Smith had difficulty believing such a lofty goal, but after attending the event, he said he has changed his mind.
Asked at the conference to compare Alibaba to Amazon, Jack Ma replied that Amazon is an e-commerce company while Alibaba is a gateway. Alibaba is a company which helps SMEs to become mini Amazons themselves, he claimed.
Even though Alibaba is ambitious, it has a few obstacles to overcome when setting up in America.
One of the biggest issues is how to provide logistical support for US SMEs. “Alibaba itself doesn’t handle the direct logistical chaining which Amazon does. It makes practical sense in China while it is going to become a big issue in the global sense. Alibaba has to learn more about how this can be handled across borders,” said Yukon Huang, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Program host Liu Xin closed the discussion by saying, “given Donald Trump's verbal attacks on China during his presidential campaign, it's ironic that one of his pledges – to create jobs in America – might well be helped by a Chinese entrepreneur. But Jack Ma obviously knows a thing or two about e-commerce; and if one is to believe his claims, this could be very good news for America.”