Chinese billionaire business magnate and founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, says he can no longer fulfill his promise to create 1 million new jobs in the United States, citing the heightened tensions over trade between superpowers China and the United States as the reason.
Mr. Ma has also said that the trade war will not be easily solved and may indeed last for decades. He urged his home country to concentrate instead on trade with Africa, Europe and South East Asia, all of which are located along the “Silk Road” trade route.
In 2016 Mr. Ma met with President Donald Trump and discussed his plans for bringing 1 million US companies aboard Alibaba to penetrate the Chinese markets in the next few years, through the platform’s marketplaces Taobao and Tmall.
Since each company would have to employ someone new to man that venue for sales, this would mean an additional 1,000,000 jobs.
According to Ma, “This commitment is based on friendly China-U.S. cooperation and the rational and objective premise of bilateral trade. The current situation has already destroyed the original premise. There is no way to deliver the promise.”
Alibaba closed at 3.8 percent higher on Wednesday, with investors unmoved by Mr. Ma’s announcement. However, the company’s stock has gone down by 5.7 percent over 2018 so far.
In the latest volley in the trade wars, the US last week imposed an additional 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and said an additional $267 billion would be levied if China struck back.
China in turn levied tariffs on $60 billion worth of American goods.
Mr. Ma has been openly supportive of China’s new levies, saying that China could very likely redirect its exports to Europe, South East Asia and Africa.
However he did say at an investor conference last week, “The U.S. likes competition, China likes harmony, they’re two different cultures.” He has also warned that the tension between the two superpowers would likely end with undesirable results for both.
Mr. Ma is expected to step down as chairman of Alibaba in 2019.