China-based Alibaba.com has opened its first European office in Geneva.

From this strategic location, Alibaba.com will help Swiss and European SMEs to become more competitive by making their import and export business easier in a growing global economy.

Founded in 1999, Alibaba.com, the flagship business of the Alibaba Group based in Hangzhou in eastern China, provides an efficient, trusted platform where SME buyers and suppliers across the globe can connect and exchange raw materials, goods, manufactured products and even services. In just over eight years, Alibaba.com has built a global community of more than 24 million members from over 200 countries and regions , covering some 30 industries and more than 5,000 product categories.

As highlighted by Jack Ma, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, "We want to help SMEs from all over the world grow their business and benefit from cross border trade. Alibaba.com is like the World Trade Organisation for SMEs."

SMEs are the leading economic engine across the globe. In Europe, there are more than 19 million SMEs, who employ over 97 million people. These European SME's make up 99.7 percent of the total number of companies, and are the principal source of employment and wealth in the European Union. Switzerland has a similar landscape, with SMEs forming the backbone of the Swiss economy: 99.7 percent of Swiss companies employ less than 250 people, and together they represent two-thirds of the working population.

"The large concentration of SMEs is one of the reasons why, in just a few years, Europe has become one of the most important markets for Alibaba.com in terms of active members," said Kenneth Liu, Alibaba.com vice president of global operations. "It was therefore a logical step for us to open our first European office in the region to be closer to our members. Our presence in Europe will make European and international trade even easier for SMEs in the region, as we will be concentrating on developing regional business, attracting new members and providing customer service directly."

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