Alibaba’s Jack Ma has met with US president-elect Donald Trump in New York, promising to create one million jobs in the US in five years.

Similar to its focus in Australia, Alibaba wants US small businesses and farmers to sell products and services through Alibaba’s platforms to China and Asia.

Ma, executive chairman and founder of Alibaba Group, said the pair discussed how to improve cross border trade for small business, citing agricultural producers in America’s mid-west.

“We talked about supporting one million small businesses to sell on our platform to China and Asia, especially Southeast Asia, where we are pretty big,”  Ma told reporters following the meeting.

“We also think the China-USA relationship should be strengthened, should be more friendly and do better,” Ma said.

The job pledge comes amid tensions between China and the incoming US administration over trade and Taiwan. Alibaba’s Taobao platform was also recently placed back on the notorious market list by the US Office of Trade Representatives, suggesting the company had not done enough to crack down on merchants selling counterfeit products on the platform.

“We had a great meeting…and [he’s] a great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world, and he loves this country, and he loves China,” Trump told reporters gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower following the meeting.

“Jack and I are going to do great things for small business,” Trump said.

The US Chamber of Commerce estimates trade with China already supports over 40 million jobs in the US. According to the US Department of Commerce, the US has exported over $500 billion of goods to China in the past five years. A recent eMarketer report noted Chinese consumers are expected to spend more $150 billion on foreign goods by 2020.

In September 2016 Alibaba signed an agreement with Austrade to strengthen trade opportunities by expanding the variety of Australian products sold to some of Alibaba’s hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers through Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.

At the time Ma said, “the next chapter of trade between China and Australia will require closer cooperation and this agreement provides a new framework to ensure more businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, can benefit through the partnership between Austrade and Alibaba. Together we can all work jointly to support Australian jobs and shape a new future for many people and businesses through the cooperation forged today.”


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