Jack Ma said Trump's trade war with China will wreck Alibaba's plans to help create 1 million US jobs

Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo BankJack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group.
  • Alibaba chairman Jack Ma said that the US-China trade war will wreck the company’s pledge to help create 1 million US jobs.
  • The comment, made in an interview with Chinese media outlet Xinhua, comes two days after Trump announced a fresh set of tariffs on $US200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
  • Ma also said that trade should be used as a tool for peace rather than a weapon.

Jack Ma, the recently departed chairman of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s trade war with China will scuttle the company’s pledge to bring 1 million jobs to the US.

In an interview with Chinese outlet Xinhua, Ma said recent back-and-forth tariffs between the US and China made the pledge – which was heavily touted by Trump in the early days of the transition period – unworkable.

“The promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations,” Ma said. “That premise no longer exists today, so our promise cannot be fulfilled.”

Ma has previously been critical of the protectionist moves from the Trump administration and said Wednesday that trade should not be used as a weapon, but rather as a way to bring peace between countries.

The Alibaba executive’s comments come the day after the trade war escalated further. On Monday, Trump announced a 10% tariff on another $US200 billion worth of Chinese goods. On Tuesday, Beijing came back with tariffs on another $US60 billion worth of US goods.

Given the relative lack of talks between the two sides, the likelihood of the trade war subsiding anytime soon is slim.

Alibaba’s original promise was predicated on the idea that by giving US small businesses more access to the Chinese market through Alibaba, the platform could help job growth in America. Many analysts were sceptical, but Trump touted it as a sign that his economic policies would help the US.

Given China’s counter-tariffs and the push for Chinese firms to find alternative, non-US sources for goods, the already optimistic pledge would be even more unlikely in the current environment.

Ma, the cofounder of Alibaba, announced in early September that he would step down from his role as chairman at the end of the year to focus on philanthropy.

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