As it gears up to open its Melbourne office, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has announced the signing of an agreement with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Austrade, that will look to strengthen trade opportunities across Australia and China.
The strategic collaboration agreement will see dedicated services provided for Australian companies looking to sell in China, with Austrade and Alibaba in particular looking to encourage SMEs to become first-time exporters. The agreement will also see the creation of a dedicated promotional channel for Australian companies on video platform youku.com.
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, said that the next chapter of trade between the two countries will require closer cooperation, and this is something the agreement will provide.
“This agreement provides a new framework to ensure more businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, can benefit through the partnership between Austrade and Alibaba. Together we can all work jointly to support Australian jobs and shape a new future for many people and businesses through the cooperation forged today,” he said.
In supporting these businesses, Maggie Zhou, managing director of Alibaba Group in Australia and New Zealand, said Alibaba will be providing a dedicated helpdesk to source Australian products, with the company also set to develop and deliver export development programs in conjunction with Austrade.
“Our local team will be dedicated to providing businesses the information and tools they need to advance their international growth,” she said.
According to Alibaba, Australia currently ranks fourth in sales volume behind the US, Japan, and Korea on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform, which allows foreign companies to sell directly to Chinese consumers. The Tmall platform is a good place to be, with sales rising by 68 percent in the last financial year to exceed $170 billion.
The company added that the majority of Australian products sold online in China are vitamins and supplements, dairy items, breakfast cereals, and beauty products.
Though Alibaba will look to promote a range of Australian businesses and industries, through the collaboration with Austrade the company will introduce an annual ‘Australian Fresh Food Week’ sales promotion and educational event on Tmall Fresh, the platform’s fresh food channel.
The agreement comes at a time when Australian business interests in China and vice versa have never been stronger. In April this year Turnbull and over 1,000 Australian business leaders representing largely the startup and SME spaces landed in China for Austrade’s Australia Week in China, an event looking to help businesses explore opportunities in Asia.
More and more are taking up the opportunities: Alibaba reported in July that there are over 1,300 Australian brands on Tmall and Tmall Global, 80 percent of which entered the Chinese market for the first time through these platforms.
Some of these have been aided through partnerships with other Australian organisations; Australia Post partnered with Tmall two years ago in a deal that has allowed local businesses to sell to China through Australia Post’s own Tmall storefront, auspost.tmall.hk.
Australia Post then earlier this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Victorian Government to help identify Victorian businesses that would be well suited to joining its Tmall storefront.
Image: Malcolm Turnbull and Jack Ma. Source: Supplied.