On August 13, Alibaba sponsored a virtual event with The Hill titled “Breaking Through: U.S. Businesses Powered by Global Exports.” During the event, moderated by Steve Clemons, The Hill’s editor-at-large, policymakers, business leaders and experts discussed the importance of exports for American businesses, especially today, with a rising middle class in Asia and around the world. Panelists also discussed how technological advancements, including new digital platforms, make it possible for American businesses of all sizes to reach these emerging global markets and new customers abroad.
The event began with a discussion between Clemons and Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA), Chair of the U.S. China Working Group. Rep. Larsen highlighted the opportunities that global trade provides for businesses in his congressional district and the thousands of jobs that have been created as a result. “The reason why exports matter is because exports create jobs here in the United States,” said Rep. Larsen. The Congressman stated that access to global markets is crucial for the Washington economy, noting that his district exports everything from planes to blueberries.
Next, former U.S.Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez joined Clemons and discussed the need to promote global trade and support U.S. businesses looking for customers abroad. Gutierrez explained that small and medium sized companies drive the American economy. “It’s the number of new companies that are started up that gives our economy vibrancy,” said Gutierrez. “These are the real heroes of our economy.” Gutierrez closed by saying, “The U.S. cannot survive without a vibrant trade policy.”
In an interview with Clemons, Alibaba Group President and Director, Michael Evans explained how cutting-edge ecommerce platforms like Alibaba provide new global market opportunities for American businesses. During COVID-19, Alibaba’s platforms, such as Alibaba.com and Tmall, have helped companies adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing economic and retail landscape. “Businesses that really need support are small businesses, because they don’t have the digital tool set or large armies of people,” said Evans. “So we spend a lot of time with them.”
Evans provided Alibaba’s work with San Francisco-based Allbirds as an example of the ways that Alibaba is helping companies adapt during this challenging time. “By using digital tools like livestreaming they were able to connect to the consumer directly and their business has been doing really well,” said Evans. He went on to stress that in today’s economic climate businesses need to consider expanding globally.
“The core strategy of Alibaba in the U.S is to try and figure how we can help everybody who wants to approach the Chinese or international market.”
Business leaders Karen Horan, Vice President of Global Business Development at the National Confectioners Association, and Josh Ghaim, CEO of Small World Brands, took part in a roundtable discussion on global exports and challenges for businesses when entering new markets.
Ghaim believes that now is the perfect time for entrepreneurs to advance a global presence with the opportunities provided to businesses through today’s technology. He noted that social media allows global consumers to see products online and order them instantly. “My recommendation to most start-ups is to think globally.” Ghaim explained that Tmall Global helps take away many of the “hurdles” that exist for U.S. brands looking to sell abroad.
Horan shared that while the National Confectioners Association represents many large brands, the majority of its members are small to medium sized companies that are family owned. Horan explained that many of these small companies have recognized the importance of global markets and opportunities provided by global cultural events, such as New Year celebrations, and global selling holidays, including Alibaba’s Singles Day in November, the biggest shopping day in the world. Companies like Almond Roca, for example, have benefitted from selling their products during Alibaba's Singles Day, Horan stated.
You can watch the entirety of the event here.