Timing of trade war with China could hurt US industries the most, says Alibaba co-founder


The threat of a trade war between the U.S. and China comes just as China’s shifting economy could provide an opportunity for U.S. exports, according to Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai.

“The trade war comes at a very ironic time,” Tsai said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

“There are now 300 million Chinese consumers that are demanding and desiring to buy from all over the world, so there’s a great opportunity for producers from America, from Europe, to sell to China, and access this large consumer-base.”

Tsai, who co-founded e-commerce giant Alibaba, warned that U.S. businesses are already hurting from the tariff standoff.

“It’s already happening, and it’s because soon after the U.S. put on tariffs on some Chinese products, China felt that it had no choice but to retaliate,” he said.

Among those immediately affected, Tsai said, are industries surrounding major U.S. exports, like soybeans. Tsai isn’t as concerned about smaller U.S. business owners, which is why he thinks Alibaba will be fine.

“In the long run, it does not jeopardize anything,” Tsai said. “We want to access the small businesses in the United States, and even if there are some tariffs on some of the items, there’s still a lot of other categories that present great opportunities.”

Alibaba’s perceived security aside, Tsai said the e-commerce giant is looking long-term, beyond what Tsai called “a temporary blip” in the trade relationship between the U.S. and China.

Although the timing of trade tensions may be poor, Tsai said he thinks the trade war will prove “a temporary blip” in the U.S. Chinese relationship.


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