The Chinese business magnate earlier in January met with US President-elect Donald Trump, who has bemoaned the loss of American industry and jobs due to the outsourcing of labor to countries like Mexico and China. Ma, however, has a different view of what is behind the US economic decline.
“Over the past, the Americans had thirteen wars spending 40.2 trillion dollars,” said Ma, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “What if they spent a part of that money on building up the infrastructure, helping the white-collar and the blue-collar workers? No matter how strategically good it is, you’re supposed to spend money on your own people.”
“And the other money which I’m curious about is that when I was young, all I heard about America was Ford and Boeing and those big manufacturing companies. The last 10-20 years, all I heard about is Silicon Valley and Wall Street,” he continued.
“And what happened? The year 2008: the financial crisis wiped out 19.2 trillion dollars in the USA alone and destroyed 34 million jobs globally. So what if the spent on Wall Street and the Middle East was spent on the Mid-West of the United States, developing the industry there? That could change a lot.”
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute , the United States spent $596 billion, or 3.3 percent of its GDP, on military expenditure in 2015, which is higher than any other country in the world. In Ma’s opinion, this is partly responsible for the loss of jobs in America’s Rust Belt.
“So it’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys, it is your strategy! You do not distribute the money in a proper way,” he summarized.
Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017.
Ma also expressed the view that overall globalization was a positive thing as it had brought many benefits to both China and the world. However, it should be improved by making more room for small businesses rather than the current system run by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was developed to protect corporate interests.
“The WTO was great but it was mainly designed for developed countries and big companies. There’s no opportunity for small business. We want to build up an EWTP – an Electronic World Trade Platform – to support young people, small business.”
“And the other thing is that the WTO is a very interesting organization. When you put 200 government officials in one room, ask them to agree on something – it’s impossible! I can never imagine that they agree on something together. Business should be designed by business people, so we believe the EWTP should have businessmen sitting down together, agree on something, negotiate on something, then get endorsement from the government.”
Ma founded Alibaba, one of the world’s largest online retailers and e-commerce platforms, back in 1999. According to Forbes, Ma has a net worth of approximately 27.7 billion dollars, making him the second-richest man in China.