Jack Ma, Alibaba Group’s well-traveled executive chairman, wants Americans to have a better understanding of his company’s growth plans outside of China. So this week, Ma is on the road again, first heading to The Economic Club of New York for a speech about Alibaba’s global strategy, then to Chicago to meet with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and to attend a forum with some 300 small business owners hosted by American Express CEO Ken Chenault.
Ma has previously stated that Alibaba, which dominates Chinese e-commerce and runs several international online marketplaces, is not out to compete with established U.S. Internet players or make large acquisitions in the West. The company’s message revolves around Alibaba’s efforts to use technology to knock down obstacles to U.S.-China trade, with an emphasis on helping small U.S. businesses expand to global markets.
Alibaba’s giant B2C marketplace Tmall.com already hosts scores of well-known American brands, but Ma has been urging faster progress in the establishment of alliances not just in the U.S. but around the world to beef up cross-border e-commerce linkages and to speed international shipping of goods ordered online by individuals—particularly goods ordered by Chinese consumers.
“Alibaba’s strategy in the United States is clear,” said Jennifer Kuperman, Alibaba Group vice president of international corporate affairs, in a statement. “We want to help as many U.S. entrepreneurs, small businesses, and companies of all sizes sell their goods to a growing Chinese consumer class.” China’s middle class today is equal in size to the entire U.S. population and is expected to reach 630 million by 2022, according to management consultancy McKinsey & Co.
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The country’s consumers, already enthusiastic online shoppers, are increasingly using Web marketplaces such as Tmall.com to buy from foreign companies. So-called “cross-border e-commerce” purchases by China’s online shoppers grew ten-fold between 2010 and 2014, from less than $2 billion to more than $20 billion, according to Emarketer. “Alibaba’s international ambition is to is to help Chinese consumers get the American products they want, and in turn, create jobs and increase exports to China from the United States,” Kuperman said.
More than 100 journalists are expected to attend Ma’s speech at the New York Economic Club on June 9. The following day, Ma will take to the stage in Chicago for a town hall meeting with Chenault and 300 local small businesses. Alizila will post video highlights of the events here.