China's richest man Jack Ma says he has 'great chemistry' with Trudeau
Published Monday, September 25, 2017 5:26PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 25, 2017 11:38PM EDT
Alibaba founder and China’s richest man Jack Ma says he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have now met five times and have “great chemistry.”
“See, the PM this morning talked about cutting the red tapes and improving the business environment,” Ma told BNN’s Jon Erlichman Monday after their latest meeting in Toronto.
“This is why we have such a great chemistry,” Ma added. “Business friendly.”
During the exclusive interview at a conference hosted by Alibaba, Ma said that he had only met U.S. President Donald Trump once, while his meetings with Trudeau have revealed a “passion for the small businesses, young people, women and trade.”
“I’m crazy about these kinds of things,” he added.
Ma and Trudeau have previously met at events in Beijing and Davos, Switzerland, among other places.
An Alibaba North American office?
Ma gave the interview at an event aimed at convincing Canadian companies to expand into Asia using Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, which Alibaba says reaches 520 million people. Companies like Aldo and Clearwater Seafood are already there.
Ma said his company is still deciding where to build its next office as it expands in North America. While there are lot of things left for Alibaba to “understand about the market,” according to Ma, Canada is attractive.
Canadian cities from Toronto to Winnipeg are lobbying for Amazon’s newest distribution centre, but Alibaba could soon rival Amazon globally.
When asked whether China could become an alternative market for Canadian products if the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Mexico goes badly, Ma said he doesn’t know the policy details, but is “sure of one thing”: that China’s market has already eclipsed America’s and it will become “the super largest” in the next 10 years.
“Why not diversify and get more business(es) here to sell to China?” he added.
The Liberals are now in exploratory talks over a free trade agreement with China that would help Canadian businesses compete more easily. They have faced criticism over the possibility of a deal with the human rights and labour standards laggard.
At Monday’s event, Trudeau said Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses should look to China for growth nonetheless.
"In the future there will not be made in Canada, made in America, made in China,” the prime minister said. “Most of the products will be made in the internet.”
Canada already has a free trade agreement with South Korea and continues to negotiate with at least dozen Pacific countries, from Japan to Vietnam, after the Trans-Pacific Partnership was scuttled earlier this year by Trump.
In a survey for the Asia Pacific Foundation earlier this year, 55 per cent of Canadians said they supported free trade with China, up from 36 per cent in 2014.
With files from BNN and The Canadian Press