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Alibaba opens new office in Australia to push globalization strategy

Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd announced a plan on Tuesday to open its first local office in Australia later this year, the latest move in its globalization push to have more than half its revenues coming from countries outside China by 2036.

Alibaba's global president Michael Evans said Australia was a "huge part" of his company's long-term globalization strategy to raise its 423 million customers to 2 billion in another 10 years, as it expands its presence internationally.

"Australia and New Zealand are a big part of our globalization strategy. In markets that are very important to us, we want a good group of people working for us," Evans told The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday.

"The e-commerce business, reportedly worth $200 billion, currently has eight staff in Australia. However, with plans to open up its first office in the city of Melbourne by the end of 2016, Alibaba will target Australian consumers as it plans to boost its business over the next three to five years," he said.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba has said on numerous occasions that it wants to build itself into a global e-commerce service, enabling consumers to buy from wherever they want in the world.

As China's e-commerce market grows at a slower pace, analysts said the launch of a more global strategy was needed for Alibaba to maintain its momentum.

Lu Zhenwang, an analyst with Shanghai Wangqing Consultancy, said that the number of Chinese online shoppers may have already peaked. "So it makes sense for Alibaba to expand its customer base through globalization," he said.

Evans said Australian businesses will be well placed to take advantage of the spending boom in Southeast Asia.

"We connect with about half a million consumers here. They are actually not all Chinese-speaking consumers," he said.

"We are going to engage in e-commerce going both ways, export to foreign markets, import to Australia."

Evans said most of Australia's dealings with Alibaba centered around milk powder.

About 1,400 Australian brands sell on Alibaba's online platforms and about 80 percent of them had never entered the Chinese market before setting up e-shops.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

By Meng Jing (China Daily), added at 7/20/2016

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