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Alibaba boss bullish on Aussie prospects

Jack MaAlibaba co-founder and chairman, Jack Ma, remains bullish about the potential of Australian brands in China, signalling his intention to ramp up the e-commerce giant’s operations Down Under.

Speaking to an audience of business people and dignitaries at Alibaba’s Australia and New Zealand office opening over the weekend, Ma said that Australian brands are still underestimating the scale of demand for their products in China.

“Australia could be the best market and partner for China […] simplicity of life, respect of culture and respect of the environment – that’s what we should bring to China,” Ma said.

Officially launching the company’s presence in Australia, Ma indicated that Alibaba’s first task will be to strengthen relationships between their partners, universities and government so that Australian businesses can better understand the intricacies of the Chinese market.

“The gold mine for Australia and New Zealand in the next 20 years is clean water, soil and the air,” Ma said. “We have more than 300 million people in the middle class and in the next 10-15 years we will have close to 500m middle class.”

“We need high quality products, we need high quality services and China today isn’t able to produce that.”

A staunch believer in globalisation, Ma outlined his plan to help China transform itself from an export-based economy to a consumer economy predicated on importing, saying that his 20 year goal is to serve two billion customers by making ten billion small-to-medium businesses profitable.

The future for Australian brands in China won’t be ecommerce exclusive either, referencing Alibaba’s privatisation bid for Chinese department store chain, Intime Retail Group, Ma clarified that his ultimate vision is to work with international partners to develop a new retail that merges its highly successful e-commerce platform with bricks and mortar stores.

“The online business can’t last forever, without working online and offline together things won’t work. We want to work together to empower traditional retail,” he explained.

Ma also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding at the event between Alibaba and Australia post, which saw both company’s pledge to work towards streamlining supply side operations for partners looking to export into China.

Alibaba has previously signed a memorandum with GS1 Australia, signalling their intention to standardise product information.

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