Home » Davos 2017: An Insight, An Idea with Alibaba Founder, Jack Ma (Transcript)

Davos 2017: An Insight, An Idea with Alibaba Founder, Jack Ma (Transcript)

In the past 30 years, the globalization was controlled by 60,000 big companies. A hundred years ago, globalization was controlled by several kings and emperors. What if the next 30 years we can support 6 million businesses doing business across the board? What if the next 30 years we can help support 20 million small businesses, can do business across the board. So this is something which I believe globalization should be inclusive.

Interviewer: And do you think that the words of President Xi will happen in reality, which is to say that China has largely acted on its own behalf for many many years and now is effectively saying that the U.S. needs to continue acting on everybody else’s behalf?

Jack Ma: Yeah, I think the world needs some — it’s such a — Mr. Xi yesterday said it’s a wonderful time, it’s the best time or the worst time. The world needs a new leadership but the new leadership is about working together. This is what I understand. We do not necessarily need one specific leader to teach us what to do, what not to do. But the world have to partner together. This is what I think. And I think I like as a Chinese, as a business people I like, I feel proud for what President Xi said yesterday. As a business person I want the world to share the prosperity together, to join the force together. As a Chinese, I’m happy about what he committed. Yesterday he said — he speaks like us take the responsibility of the second largest economy. As the China, second largest economy, he has to take some responsibility. This is the first time I heard a Chinese leader make number commitment. He said next 10 years we are going to import $8 trillion. This makes me feel excited, because China is transforming from exporting to importing. If there is a concrete number, if we keep fuel it, this is going to be a huge change to China and to the world.

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Interviewer: Do you think that it’s easier today for China to be interested in globalization because of the benefits that can accrue to China because you’re continuing to develop than it is for countries that are ‘developed’?

Jack Ma: Well, first, the WTO rule is not decided by China. It’s not made by China. I will say there’s something that I want to change WTO is design — lot of the rules designed for big companies in the past 30 years — and only big companies can do it. And China definitely benefits a lot from opening. I think China should learn one thing: that we grew in the past 30 years, it’s because we opened to the world. If we continue to open —

Interviewer: Well, not fully. Not fully. American business that wants to effectively go into business in China has a very difficult time, has to partner effectively with a company that’s there already.

Jack Ma: This is why I said China has problems too. The world has problems and China definitely has a lot of problems. China should open, [should be more confidence]. This is what I feel yesterday, I feel the confidence of Mr. Xi that he is ready to open more to the world. This is what I suggest that we should solve the problem by business community, by negotiation. The China joined WTO for like, 20 years or 70 years, I don’t know the number. But the past years that I think we as a business, we as a country, we as the world, we have to review something. But not because unbalance the things, we stop it.

Interviewer: You’ve been calling for something called eWTP. What is that?

Jack Ma: This is what I would talk about, is that the WTO was great but they’re mainly designed for developed countries’ big companies. There’s no opportunity for small businesses. We want to build up an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) to support young people, small business, through mobile phones, internet they can sell, buy, across the board. And the other thing is that WTO is a very interesting organization, when you put door around — when you put 200 government officers in one room, ask them to agree on something: it’s impossible. I can never imagine that they can agree on something together. Business should be decided by business people. So we believe eWTP should be something that the business people sit down together, agree on something, negotiate on something and get endorsement from the government.

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Interviewer: Let’s talk a little bit about Alibaba and the model itself, because I think for many in the West, if you will, they don’t necessarily understand it. And to the extent that — to the extent that I could try to compare it to Amazon, which I know you think is an unfair comparison. One of the things that’s so fascinating to me is that Amazon and Jeff Bezos have pursued what might be described as a very asset heavy business model. They’re buying airplanes, they want to own the entire supply chain from beginning to end. And Alibaba has effectively an asset like business, it is very much in terms of the retail piece of this, the opposite. You don’t want to own the warehouses, you don’t want to own the logistics companies. How do you think about that? Is Jeff Bezos right or are you right? And is there going to be a meeting in the middle?

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