Alibaba 'very disappointed' by return to US fake list

By He Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-23 07:15

Alibaba 'very disappointed' by return to US fake list

A woman tries an Alibaba VR device during a shopping spree in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo/China Daily]

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has hit out at a US decision to label it a haven for counterfeits, indicating that the move may have been politically motivated.

The world's top online retailer said on Thursday it was "very disappointed" by the decision to be restored to the list of "Notorious Markets", after the US Office of the Trade Representative cited a high level of alleged piracy and counterfeiting.

"We are very disappointed by the USTR's decision to include Taobao on its 'Notorious Markets' list, which ignores the real work Alibaba has done against counterfeits," Alibaba President Michael Evans said.

In 2016 alone, Taobao, the customer-to-customer platform, has removed more than double the number of infringing product listings than it did in 2015, Evans said.

"Our results speak for themselves. Unfortunately, the USTR's decision leads us to question whether it acted based on the actual facts or was influenced by the current political climate," Evans said.

Alibaba said in a statement that the list will not dampen its fight against the fake.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "The two countries should provide a fair and impartial trade environment for the activities of each other's companies."

The "Notorious Markets" list is under the auspices of the annual Special 301 process where Washington identifies trade barriers due to infringements of intellectual property rights, according to Catter Hu, a partner at Shanghai Jiehua Law Firm.

"While the report mainly targets companies and does not necessarily reflect Washington's view on respective countries, it's likely to dampen Alibaba's reputation in the US, where it has been trying to build up ties with retailers," Hu said.

However, this year's review also included a call for the Chinese government to take stronger measures on IPR reforms, a clear sign that political considerations are getting in the way of business, said Zhao Ping, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

Despite all of its efforts, the company finds itself listed along with 10 other Chinese websites and bricks-and-mortar markets in the list, dealing a further blow to its overseas expansion, according to Yang Yaqiong, a senior analyst at Beijing-based Analysys.

"It's more politics than anything else. If you read through the report, you see a rather negative tone toward the Chinese market at large," said Yang.

Wang Qingyun in Beijing contributed to this story.

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