Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Alibaba´s Ma says 1m USA jobs pledge thwarted by trade row

Alibaba´s Ma says 1m USA jobs pledge thwarted by trade row

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding no longer plans to create 1 million jobs in the United States amid the intensified trade war between China and the U.S., according to company co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma Yun.

The Alibaba (BABA) chief grabbed attention at the start of previous year when he made the ambitious jobs pledge following a meeting with Donald Trump, who was president elect at the time. "They still have many opportunities despite the trade frictions between China and the US", Mr Ma said.

"This commitment is based on friendly China-US cooperation and the rational and objective premise of bilateral trade", Ma said Wednesday.

When commenting about his coming retirement, Ma says he has been prepared for it for over 10 years. With all this fuss about the trade relations between the United States and China, this is bound to be just beginning.

In April, Mr Ma doubled down on his pledge, claiming 10 million jobs could be created "if China and the USA maintain good trade relations".

This week, Mr Trump said he would press ahead with 10 per cent levies on US$200 billion (S$273 billion) of imports - on top of US$50 billion already targeted - prompting Beijing to target another US$60 billion of United States goods with 5 to 10 per cent taxes.

He added US tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese products could prompt the country to export elsewhere. He said that trade is not a weapon and shouldn't be used for wars.

At Alibaba's annual investor event on Tuesday in Hangzhou, Ma warned that the trade friction between the USA and China will be a protracted affair because it is about two countries competing with each other.

Analysts said the early withdrawal of Ma, the charismatic face of a company that has revolutionized how and what China's people consume, will challenge Alibaba to carry on Ma's vision amid rising competition.

Ma, the charismatic co-founder of Alibaba, announced last week that he would step down in one year to concentrate on philanthropy and education, passing on the reins to trusted lieutenant Daniel Zhang.

"I'm just 54, and I still have at least 16 years to do something new", Mr Ma told Xinhua. "It´s exciting to have more than a dozen years to take on a new career".

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