Alibaba launches exclusive Korean sales channel

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has launched an exclusive sales channel for Korean products on its B2C platform T-mall as part of its expansion of business ties with the Korean government, the Finance Ministry said Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan and Alibaba founder & CEO Jack Ma reached the agreement on enhancing bilateral partnership in the logistics sector during their meeting at the state-run aT headquarters in southern Seoul.

The items available on this exclusive channel will include products from the agriculture, food, manufacturing and tourism industries.

“Alibaba plans to provide Korea’s online retailers who participate in the T-mall sales with comprehensive marketing and consulting services,” the ministry said.

Alibaba Group head Jack Ma (center) looks at Korean food products in aT Center in southern Seoul after launching an online shopping platform in South Korea on Monday. At right is Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan. (Yonhap)

For efficient coordination, two state-controlled agencies ― the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corp. ― will screen prospective small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The Finance Ministry is pinning hopes on exports through T-mall, which was established in 2003. It is the largest B2C Internet shopping mall in China with its 2013 sales reaching 33 trillion won.

In addition, Choi and Ma reached a consensus on manpower collaboration at the meeting.

As an initial step, the e-commerce group has decided to offer an internship program to Korean job seekers. Twenty Koreans in their 20s, selected by the KITA, will get an opportunity to work at Alibaba’s Chinese headquarters for three months from early July.

Those experiencing the apprenticeship could be fostered as Korea’s strategic workforce in charge of attracting more Chinese individual consumers to Korea’s online shopping malls for their direct purchases, said the ministry.

CEO Ma was quoted by ministry officials as saying that he “expects Korea to become one of the global logistics hubs of Alibaba.” He also reportedly said his group is seeking to find a Korean corporate business partner, who will play the role of linking China and North America to expand the distribution channels.

This was the third official meeting between Choi and Ma. They met earlier in Seoul, August 2014, and in Hangzhou, January 2015.

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