Time to support small business, says China’s 2nd-richest man
A retooling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) should be considered to support small businesses, the chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said on Wednesday.
“We should build up a new e-WTO or WTO 2.0,” said Alibaba Group Chairman and co-founder Jack Ma, speaking at an insight session of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit, where he noted how markets had changed in the Internet age.
“[W]e should use the WTO to support the small guys because if we cannot change it, it would be a disaster for everybody,” Ma said, noting that the Geneva-based organization traditionally catered to big companies.
“No matter what country you are, no matter what size of company you are, trade is a freedom. Trade is a human right. Trade should not be used as a tool against the other nations,” Ma added.
He noted that businesses now make heavy use of technology and innovation, driven by the needs of the Internet generation.
“Small guys have the most innovative companies. 15 years ago, when we had this idea on using the internet to help small guys in China, everybody said no, impossible. Our job is to make the impossible, possible,” Ma said.
Founded in 1999, the Alibaba Group runs Alibaba.com, the world’s largest online business to business trading platform for small businesses. Just last week, it smashed online sales records by generating $14.3 billion in just one day.
November 11 was “Singles Day” —coined after the numbers for the day and month—during which Alibaba offers its biggest online shopping sale for the year.
Fifty-one year-old Ma is ranked by Forbes as the second-richest man in China with a net worth of $21.8 billion.