Alibaba expects US goods to sell well on Singles' Day

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) expects strong sales of US products on its Web marketplaces during the Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza today, despite the tit-for-tat trade war with the US and a slowing Chinese economy.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday, Alibaba president Michael Evans said he was “not too concerned” about the trade fracas damping sales, as “11/11 is not an event that relies exclusively on any one market.”

“We will be working with over 200 countries and regions as part of this enormous event and so we don’t expect any one area to have a huge amount of influence, other than China of course,” Evans said.

Regarding the Chinese economy, Evans said there is “some uncertainty about what will happen going forward,” while noting growth in the country is still running at about 6.5 percent a year.

Alibaba has seen softer demand for big-ticket items, such as washing machines, televisions and automobiles, but other sectors, such as cosmetics, food, fashion and apparel, are still going strong, Evans said.

The company is focusing on the 300 million Chinese people who are expected to enter the ranks of the middle class in the next five years, Evans said.

The company, based in Hangzhou, China, markets itself as a way for global brands to reach the Chinese consumer, with more than 10,000 US brands, including Nike and Starbucks, that sell their goods on Alibaba’s Tmall Global (天貓) Web site.

Billionaire cofounder Jack Ma (馬雲) has been a vocal opponent of the tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of US and Chinese goods, calling the trade war “the most stupid thing in this world.”

China’s retaliatory tariffs on US goods include products such as food and wine, which are popular items sold on Alibaba’s platforms.

Alibaba has already discarded its pledge to create a million jobs in the US, but it has not “given up our initiatives to create jobs in the US for small businesses,” Evans said. “It is a little bit more difficult if tensions between these two governments continue, because we don’t want to get caught in the middle of geopolitical discussions.”