The United States subprime mortgage crisis won't hurt growth at Alibaba.com - and may even help small and medium e-commerce firms win more deals, said Chief Executive Officer David Wei.
He also urged Chinese exporters to capture business potential in markets such as Japan, India and Russia to offset the impact caused by the weaker US dollar.
"The US slowdown is mainly affecting large buyers and suppliers, so in this regard, small and medium players will have more opportunities," Wei said.
The number of US buyers purchasing consumer goods is growing fast, and in some sectors, inquiries from US buyers have risen 50 percent over the past six months, he said after a forum on Chinese exports via e-commerce last Friday in Shanghai.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba, founded in 1999, is a leading online marketplace for international and domestic trade by providing a platform for connecting small and medium buyers and suppliers.
Its shares started trading in Hong Kong in November last year. Alibaba today has more than 24 million members worldwide, among which 21 million are from China's mainland.
Wei said small and medium Chinese manufacturers, suffering from the rising yuan, cuts in export rebates and inflationary pressure, shouldn't confine themselves to traditional Western markets. Emerging areas, especially Japan, would be key future growth engines, he predicted.
Japan is so important because it has about 4.3 million small and medium companies and a high population of Internet users.
To tap this market, Alibaba launched a Japanese-language site late last year, Wei said. Alibaba had formed a venture with Japanese partner Softbank Corp to run the Website, in which Alibaba holds a minority stake.
(Shanghai Daily March 10, 2008)