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JD.com Says Chinese Companies Finding It Harder to Enter US

Increased protectionism will hurt the American economy, the head of China’s second-largest e-commerce operator said.
JD.com staff at a warehouse and distribution facility | Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Bloomberg

BEIJING, China — The head of China's second-largest e-commerce operator said mainland companies are finding it harder to enter the U.S. market.

Increased protectionism will hurt the American economy, JD.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Liu said. The head of China’s second biggest online mall made the comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during which he was asked if Chinese President Xi Jinping was a customer and whether he’d ask U.S. President Donald Trump to buy his products during an upcoming event.

The rising trade barriers come at a critical point for JD, which is juggling a series of expensive and ambitious expansion plans in China and abroad. It’s simultaneously spending hundreds of millions of dollars to drive the business into Southeast Asia, with investments in Thailand, Indonesia and mostly recently Vietnam. It then plans to start services in the Middle East before entering the hotly contested U.S. and European markets.

“Chinese companies are finding it harder to go into the United States and I can feel the protectionism is quite serious there — it’s not a good thing," he said via a translator. "It will hurt the US economy too."

Liu’s company trails only Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in online sales in China.

Unlike Alibaba, JD has deployed an asset-heavy business model with 9 million square meters (97 million square feet) of warehouse space and delivery trucks spread throughout China. Liu said the company had 167,000 staff "as of last night", up from the 137,975 it had on September 30, though a spokesman later said the figure may include staff at the JD Finance division that was spun off in 2017.

The rising number of staff are needed as the online retailer pushes into hotly contested new markets from its physical retail chain 7Fresh to new lines of business like luxury watches and women’s apparel.

By David Ramli; editors: Robert Fenner and Edwin Chan.

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