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Rising U.S.-China Trade Tensions – How Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com Will Survive

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The trade dispute between the US and China may have an indirect and direct effect on the largest Chinese e-Commerce firms, Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com.

The trade restrictions set by the U.S. for the world’s largest economy may have a significant effect on the production costs of American goods and components in that country, which are advertised by these online trading platforms. Technological collaboration may also be limited by sanctions.

Foxconn is the largest assembly site for Apple products, but the company has decided to move the production of MacBook laptops and iPad tablets from China to Vietnam. The increase in import duties due to the Beijing-Washington dispute economically justifies the removal of much of the assembly’s potential outside China.

Mostlt the Chinese vendors sell goods on Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com. The relocation of these and other manufacturing sites will not lead to a decrease in turnover, but will restrict growth.

Large businesses are interested in the low labor costs in other Southeast Asian countries in addition to the need to diversify risks. In China, the overall average salary was over $500, and in cities it was over $1000. The trend in wage increases and other optimistic labor market developments is increasing the price of costs and other costs.

A prohibition on doing business in the United States is the biggest challenge for Alibaba. Maintaining and improving revenue in the western markets is an important challenge for Alibaba and Baidu. In the home market, growth continues, but is very constrained. Alibaba’s revenue increased 30.3 percent year-on-year in the third quarter to 155 billion yuan, driven largely by expansion abroad.

For those American businesses that refuse to remove production from abroad, Donald Trump has threatened tariffs. There are no plans for Joe Biden to moderate his rhetoric on China yet. Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on U.S. companies to sever relations with Chinese partners, including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu cloud computing providers under the Clean Network Initiative.

Amazon is competing with Alibaba, but the two online shopping firms very effectively share the global market. In the online shopping market, JD.com and Baidu remain more local players. Competitors for Alibaba include ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, which launched its e-commerce business in June. JD.com, on the B2C model, one of the biggest retailers in the Chinese online market, extends the range and organizes a distribution service. During a large-scale sale, the business managed to collect record revenues.

A possible danger is also the Chinese corporate sector’s heavy debt load. In November, several large companies, including e-commerce suppliers, especially Tsinghua Unigroup, announced technical defaults. The country’s authorities did not provide timely assistance to companies with state involvement, which caused a significant blow to the Chinese debt sector.

A wide range of Chinese bonds experienced pressure from sellers after the mentioned wave of technical defaults. The businesses we are considering, however, do not have credit risks today. The debt/equity ratio of Alibaba is 14.78 percent, and Baidu is 42.15 percent. But it could be hard for many of the sellers to pay the debt.

The yuan could be improved by reducing the export capacity and revenues of Alibaba, Baidu and JD.com. It reached the highest level since June 2018 at the beginning of December, after which it stopped strengthening, but traders expected growth driven by the Chinese economy’s recovery, to continue. To date, Beijing has not taken aggressive steps to curb the national currency, which, from the current 6.53, is able to strengthen against the dollar to 6.68-6.7.

Pre-election political intrigues involving big companies are more relevant than the economic concerns of importers, with good reporting by Alibaba, Baidu and JD.com for investors. Due to China’s optimistic exit from the crisis triggered by the pandemic, we foresee a two-fold rise in revenues of all three companies over the next year.

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