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Alibaba Launches Platform To Link US Businesses With 500 Million Chinese Consumers

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Alibaba Launches Platform To Link US Businesses With 500 Million Chinese Consumers

On the heels of a gathering designed to connect American entrepreneurs with the Chinese market, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) is launching an online network to pair businesses with merchants on the commerce giant’s Taobao marketplace.

The Taobao Global U.S. Merchants Network will link small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. with the sales potential of the more than 500 million consumers who use Alibaba’s platforms, the company said in a Monday announcement.

Taobao is a commerce-driven platform that includes shopping, product discovery, content and social engagement.

“Being a part of this network will enable these merchants to more efficiently identify and work with U.S. small businesses to bring their products to Chinese consumers,” Alibaba President Michael Evans said in a statement.

The network is going online with more than 300 American merchant members already on board, according to Alibaba.

Meeting A Rising Demand For U.S. Products

Alibaba described the Taobao Global U.S. Merchants network as “a centralized matchmaking platform.”

The company said it plans to organize training seminars on topics like storefront operation and logistics for merchants.

At the Gateway ‘17 conference — held June 20-21 in Detroit with guest speakers such as Martha Stewart, journalists Lisa Ling and Charlie Rose, Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert, CNBC star Marcus Lemonis and United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE: UPS) CEO David Abney — Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma said businesses can’t afford to ignore China.

“If you miss the opportunity of selling your products to China … you will miss the future,” Ma said.

While speaking in Detroit, Ma projected that Alibaba’s sales will reach $1 trillion within three years — and that the company he founded in 1999 will qualify as the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2036.

Sixty U.S. small businesses connected with 45 Taobao Global merchants in a matchmaking event at the Detroit conference, and the partnerships could generate more than $50 million in sales, according to Alibaba.

The demand from Chinese consumers for “niche U.S. imports” is growing, Maggie Wang, the CEO of Taobao member Shanghai Amphora Star International Trade, said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to be part of the Taobao Global U.S. Merchants Network, which will allow us to work more closely with Alibaba and our fellow merchants to source a wider variety of U.S. goods for our customers in China and gain better access to all the local brands and entrepreneurs across the United States,” Wang said.

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Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma speaks June 21 at the Gateway '17 conference in Detroit, which was designed to connect American entrepreneurs with the Chinese market. Photo by Dustin Blitchok.

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