Republican U.S. President-elect Donald Trump continued holding meetings on Monday in New York, as he prepares to take over the White House from Democrat Barack Obama on January 20th. Monday’s meetings are proving particularly interesting in terms of fashion, as both Bernard Arnault, Chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Jack Ma, Founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, met with Trump.
While Trumo has not revealed the nature of either meeting, his time with Arnault – whose conglomerate LVMH owns Louis Vuitton, Celine, Marc Jacobs, and Givenchy, among other fashion and non-fashion brands – reportedly centers on the company’s considerations of expansion of his factories, which currently include two in the U.S.
Arnault is looking at sites in North Carolina, and Trump said he is also considering a location in the Midwest. “One of the great men, you know that, right? And they all love this country,” Trump said of Arnault after their meeting. “They’re going to do some wonderful things in this country,” he said, adding “jobs, a lot of jobs.”
As for Ma, Trump said they had a "great meeting," in which they discussed 1 million new U.S. jobs. Ma said that Alibaba's expansion would focus on products like garments, wine and fruits, with a special focus on trade between the American midwest and southeast Asia."We're focused on small business," Ma told reporters. "We specifically talked about ... supporting 1 million small businesses, especially in the Midwest of America. Small businesses on the platform selling products — agriculture products and America services — to China and Asia, because we're pretty big in Asia."
Monday's meeting was planned to focus on the Chinese e-commerce company's U.S. expansion plans, according to spokespeople for both Alibaba and Trump. "We had a great meeting, and a great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world, and he loves this country, and he loves China," Trump said. "Jack and I are going to do some great things."
Trump's meeting with Ma is particularly interesting given that just one two weeks ago, Alibaba was re-added to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) “Special 301” Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets report, a blacklist of sorts that details which entities are most egregiously abusing the intellectual property rights of others' on a worldwide basis.
Alibaba’s TaoBao was highlighted as particularly problematic this year. According to the report, "The Taobao.com e-commerce platform is an important concern due to the large volume of allegedly counterfeit and pirated goods available and the challenges right holders experience in removing and preventing illicit sales and offers of such goods."
While inclusion on the USTR's list does not carry any direct penalties, it is a blow to Alibaba's efforts to shed perceptions its websites are riddled with fakes - a key to gaining a bigger international customer base and taking market share from global competitors, such as eBay and Amazon.com.