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Business

Alibaba founder: Free trade ‘best tool’ for cultural exchange

Kathleen A. Martin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma has encouraged businesses to negotiate among themselves instead of waiting for their governments to conclude trade agreements.

Ma, speaking at one of the sessions during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila, stressed free trade is the “best tool” to allow people from different cultures to understand each other.

“Trading is about culture, it is about passion, innovation, and creation… We think no matter what country you are, whatever size the company you have, trade is a freedom, a human right. Trade should not be used as a tool against other nations,” Ma said.

Ma said he hopes trade agreements such as those under the World Trade Organization continue and increase their support to small businesses as they are usually the “most innovative” companies.

Ma said entrepreneurs should take it upon themselves to talk with other businesses in facilitating trade activities as some trade agreements take many years before they come into force.

“I think let’s think about the WTO as an agreement between governments and real trade treaty should be an agreement between businesses. If businesses agree, the governments will follow,” Ma stressed.

Businesses should take advantage of the latest technological advances and use such to expand their firms and expand their market reach.

“We have helped 12 million small businesses in China by using our platform to sell (their goods} online, to communicate to their customers online. So we believe this model, if it works in China, it can work in other nations,” Ma said.

Ma said there were many who doubted him when he started Alibaba, but nowthe online site rakes in billions of sales as more people prefer to shop online today.

Alibaba is responsible for marking Nov. 11 as Singles’ Day, encouraging those without a boyfriend or a girlfriend to but themselves gifts and celebrate singled.

Ma said sales amounted to $14.5 billion this year from that day alone, a figure he could not even imagine reaching 15 years ago.

Alibaba was founded by Ma and 17 other people in 1999 to help small businesses make the Internet their edge against other retailers, according to the group’s website.

Alibaba, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in September last year, reported a four percent increase in net income to $3.923 billion for its fiscal year 2015 ending in March.

ACIRC

AGREEMENTS

ALIBABA

ALIBABA GROUP

ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION

BUSINESSES

JACK MA

NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE

ONLINE

TRADE

WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION

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