Coverage: Alibaba’s Ma backs off pledge to create 1M U.S. jobs
Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, says the company no longer plans to create one million jobs in the United States in the wake of the ongoing trade conflict between the U.S. and China.
Jillian D’Onfro of CNBC.com had the news:
“The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations,” Ma told Chinese news site Xinhua on Wednesday. “That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled.”
Ma, who recently announced that he will step down as Alibaba chairman within a year, added that the company would “not stop working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-US trade.”
Ma’s comments come on the heels of a new round of tariffs this weekfrom both China and the U.S. that will affect billions of dollars worth of goods as the two countries have failed to reach a deal to resolve the Trump administration’s concerns about China’s trade practices.
Bob Bryan of Business Insider reported that Alibaba had planned to give small U.S. businesses access to the China market:
Given the relative lack of talks between the two sides, the likelihood of the trade war subsiding anytime soon is slim.
Alibaba’s original promise was predicated on the idea that by giving US small businesses more access to the Chinese market through Alibaba, the platform could help job growth in America. Many analysts were skeptical, but Trump touted it as a sign that his economic policies would help the US.
Given China’s counter-tariffs and the push for Chinese firms to find alternative, non-US sources for goods, the already optimistic pledge would be even more unlikely in the current environment.
Ma, the cofounder of Alibaba, announced in early September that he would step down from his role as chairman at the end of the year to focus on philanthropy.
Clay Chandler and Robert Hackett of Fortune.com reported that May said the trade war could last 20 years:
Economic conflict between the two nations will persist long after Donald Trump exits the White House, Ma predicted, and is “going to last a long time, maybe 20 years…. It’s going to be a mess [because] it’s not a trade war, it’s about competition between two countries.”
It’s hard to dispute Ma’s assessment given the tit-for-tat trade moves in Washington and Beijing this week. On Monday, Trump announced new trade duties of 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, effective September 24, and vowed to hike the rate to 25 percent next year if the U.S. and China can’t close a trade deal. China retaliated immediately by slapping new duties on $60 billion of American goods.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that further action by China would provoke “great and fast economic retaliation” from the U.S., and later repeated his threat to impose 25 percent tariffs on all Chinese imports. “We don’t want to do it, but probably we’ll have no choice,” he said. Beijing hinted it won’t send negotiators for proposed talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.