Alibaba’s Jack Ma Backs Out Of Promise To Create Jobs In U.S., Cites New Tariffs

GUIYANG, CHINA - MAY 26: Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, speaks during the 2017 China International Big Data Industry Expo at Guiyang International Eco-Conference Center on May 26, 2017 in Guiyang, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Chinese shopping platform Alibaba, has recanted his promise to President Donald Trump to bring 1 million jobs to the U.S. due to the recent tariffs imposed on China.

Ma referred to the new round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods released by the Trump administration on September 17. Previous tariffs were already in effect on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, reported Business Insider.

Relations with China were expected to improve early in the year when Trump met Ma at Trump Tower in New York, where Ma proposed to bring small U.S. owned businesses on to online platform Alibaba, according to Reuters.

Alibaba’s T-mall already includes around 7,000 U.S. brands, including clothing retailer Levi’s and chocolate brand Mars. The profits made by American companies are reported by Reuters to be about $15 billion.

The opportunity to tap into Chinese markets could be valuable. Bloomberg estimates Alibaba delivered nearly 55 million packages daily to international markets in 2017.

“The promise was made on the premise of friendly U.S.-China partnership and rational trade relations,” Ma told Chinese media-outlet Xinhua, as reported by the Verge. “Trade isn’t a weapon, it can’t be used for war, it should be used to bring about peace.”

Alibaba’s decision not to incorporate further into the U.S. continues to escalate the U.S.-China trade war, which began in March with Trump announcing tariffs on all steel and aluminum, and a further tariff specifically on China.

In April, China responded in kind by slapping tariffs on over 100 U.S. goods.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 9: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group, speak to reporters following their meeting at Trump Tower, January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Trump and Ma met at Trump Tower in January 2017. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices,” said Trump in a statement when announcing the new tariffs. He threatened further action if China retaliated.

“My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack,” Trump added, noting that his duty was to protect the interests of farmers, ranchers, and working business owners.

Ma’s announcement comes on the heels of a $2 billion venture in Russia to bring Chinese goods into Russian markets, with support from the Kremlin, according to Bloomberg.

Many fear the trade war may escalate into a Cold War and have economic ramifications extending far past the two countries, said the New York Times. Prices are already expected to go up for common items exported from China, such as toiletries, furniture, and electronics.

Ma is planning to step down as chairman of Alibaba within the year, but said he hopes the company will keep working hard to develop healthy trade between China and the U.S., reported CNBC.

Trump is poised to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires at an economic summit, reported the New York Times.

“Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved in the end by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection,” Trump said in his statement.