jack ma
Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017. Reuters/Ruben Sprich

Alibaba founder Jack Ma said during the opening of the first Australian and New Zealand branch of his company on Saturday that Australia is a gold mine. He said that the clean water, soil and air are the unique assets of Australia that China was willing to invest in.

China's pollution problem was one of the reasons why the country was interested in Australia's environment. In 2016, Beijing was covered with a blanket of smog hitting toxic levels of pollution. China's airpocalypse led some people to export Australia's air to China. Air farmers have bottled air from Blue Mountains, Bondi Beach and Yarra Valley giving Australia a profit up to $1 million. Green and Clean company director John Dickinson said that there was high demand for fresh air in China and India. The people from these countries were hoping that fresh air might clean their lungs.

New Zealand was also shipping air to China through the brand Oxygen Air. The product bottles air in aerosol cans which cost $25. The product uses Alibaba to reach its Chinese customers.

Ma has not only seen the potential of Australia when it comes to clean environment but also when it comes to the growth of small businesses and to the boost of exporting and trading products. Ma said that Australia is Alibaba's fourth highest seller.

Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil is one of the most successful products sold on Alibaba. The product was founded by Brynly King from the Gold Coast, who started her business in her garage. The demand for the product has turned it into a multimillion dollar company. Today, King's products are now on the shelves in some department stores in China and other countries.

Maggie Zhou will be the head of the branches in Australia and New Zealand. She said that new Australia brands will be introduced to the Alibaba platform.

“A physical Alibaba headquarters is a key step in ensuring Australian businesses have the support and information they need to succeed in China and the rest of the world. Longer term, Alibaba Group’s vision for the ANZ region is to build the entire operating infrastructure needed to enable local businesses to expand globally,” she said. Zhou was the 48th person employed in the company.

Ma's interest in Australia started when he was 15 years old. He would practise his English with tourists while hanging out at western hotels in China. Then he met an Australian family in Newcastle that led him to realise the big potential for Australia when it comes to business.