What happened: In a meeting with President Trump before his inauguration last January, Jack Ma declared that Alibaba would bring 1 million jobs to the US over the next five years by connecting local businesses to Asian customers. Yesterday, the cult company leader retracted his pledge in an interview with Xinhua, explaining, “[the] promise was made on the premise of friendly US-China partnership and rational trade relations.” Despite the ongoing trade war, however, Ma said that Alibaba would keep “working hard to contribute to the healthy development of China-US trade.”
Why it’s important: Analysts have been skeptical of Jack Ma’s lofty claim from the start, so the announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise. It does highlight the ongoing impact of the China-US trade conflict, however, which increasingly promises to be a painful and drawn-out battle. Ma’s reneging on his promise comes shortly before China’s planned tariffs on an additional $60 billion of US goods. The taxes are an apparent retaliation against the US White House, which announced tariffs on Chinese imports worth $200 billion on Monday.