According to her former communications director, Katie Perrior, UK Prime Minister Theresa May turned down a meeting with Jack Ma at Davos in 2017, instead choosing to have fondue with her aides.
This year the Prime Minister has changed her tune, having met with Jack Ma twice in the last month, once at Davos, and on a more recent occasion in Shanghai. The British Prime Minister is seeking advice from tech billionaire and Alibaba Founder, Jack Ma, in light of a formidable challenge: how to navigate cross-border commerce post-Brexit.
One Whitehall source commented, “he’s a hugely impressive, energetic guy and the prime minister definitely enjoyed their meetings.”
Other sources say that May has been studying e-commerce giant Amazon as well to glean some inspiration for conducting trade in light of complicated international regulations, customs, and tariffs while nonetheless providing a frictionless experience to consumers.
Alibaba’s logistics program utilizes big data to provide same-day delivery for millions of people in hundreds of cities, to great success despite border clearance standards.
Mr. Ma has been a vocal supporter of China’s one-party system in recent months while criticizing the volatility of American politics. Government involvement in business in China is somewhat of a requirement, with American tech companies including Google and Facebook bowing to local laws and building data centers within the borders of the Dragon.
Whether Theresa May gets the answers she’s looking for from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Alibaba’s Jack Ma remains to be seen, but the challenge to keep international firms interested in the UK market is without a doubt a cause worthy of advice.