Jack Ma calls on global leaders to resist protectionism, says globalisation must be inclusive

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 7:09am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 January, 2018, 10:58pm

Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma Yun urged global leaders to resist the rising tide of protectionism and instead embrace trade as a means to reduce global tensions.

“Trade is the way to dissolve the war, not cause the war,” Ma said on Wednesday. “I think globalisation cannot be stopped - no one can stop globalisation, no one can stop trade.”

“It’s so easy to launch a trade war, but it’s so difficult to stop the disaster of this war,” said Ma.

Those comments, made at a discussion at the World Economic Forum taking in place in Davos, Switzerland, echo those made by other leaders including Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, who noted in an earlier speech that there was a “worrying trend” towards isolationalism. They also come as the US administration under President Donald Trump approved broad tariffs on US imports of solar cells and washing machines.

The US blocked the sale of MoneyGram, a money transfer company, to Alibaba’s financial arm Ant Financial, on nationals security grounds, while Huawei Technologies failed to seal a distribution deal for its smartphones with telecommunications carrier AT&T reportedly for the same reasons.

Earlier this month, Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, was put on the US government’s annual list of world’s most “notorious markets” for the second consecutive year, citing a high volume of reported counterfeiting and piracy. The company said the action ignored the efforts made on enforcements, where 98 per cent of proactive takedowns of counterfeit products were made before any sales could be transacted on the Taobao e-commerce site.

Alibaba’s Ma said on Wednesday he believes that globalisation has done a “fantastic job” over the past 30 years even though some side effects have also emerged, such as young people and small businesses being left with fewer opportunities, and developing countries feeling that they have been neglected in global trade.

Globalisation is still “a baby” that needs to be nurtured and improved, Ma said. “Global trade must be simple and modernised; it must be inclusive so everyone has the same opportunity. The next generation of globalisation must be inclusive.”

Alibaba has set a target to become the fifth-largest stand-alone economic entity in the world by 2036, just behind the United States, China, Europe and Japan, with an aim to create 100 million jobs and support 10 million profitable businesses on its platforms.

“In the future, no matter if you like it or you don’t like it, we will enable every young person and SME (small and medium enterprises) to buy globally, sell globally, deliver globally, pay globally and travel globally. This is the trend. Nobody can stop it,” he said.