Despite Trump’s trade threats to China, one tech start-up is expanding there anyway

Christian Lanng, chief executive of Tradeshift
Tradeshift
Christian Lanng, chief executive of Tradeshift

U.S.President-elect Donald Trump's negative rhetoric towards trade with China has done little to put off the chief executive of U.S. fintech start-up Tradeshiftfrom expanding into the world's second-largest economy.

On Monday,Tradeshift - a company that helps businesses send and pay invoices using software - announced two joint ventures (JV) in China.

The firstJV is with XunLian Technology Development Co., which is located in Chongqing.This will involve Tradeshift providing supply chain financing to businesses and the company says it will process $30 billion of gross merchandising value worth of transactions per year.

Chongqing is the main hub for the Chinese government's "One Belt, One Road" initiative which aims to connect countries through Asia, the Middle East and Europe via infrastructure to boost trade.

"It's rare for a foreign company, especially a cloud company to be involved in pivotal strategic moves, and the size of opportunity is staggering. We are looking at $2.4 trillion of trade moving through this hub," Christian Lanng, chief executive of Tradeshift, told CNBC in a phone interview.

Tradeshift's second JV is with Baiwang, a provider of tax-related services. In China there are only two companies legally allowed to process and implement market e-invoicing solutions for value added tax (VAT) compliance. The deal marks the first western company to be allowed to carry out this service.

"This is part of our gateway to China strategy which has been to focus on being the gateway to China for the largest companies in the world," Lanng said.

Tradeshift's expansion comes as Donald Trump continues his anti-trade rhetoric against China. The President-elect has been toying with the idea of a 45 percent import tariff, something that the Chinese government has said would damage the sale of American goods in China.

Lanng has not been put off from pursuing opportunities in the world's second-largest economy.

"Tradeshift is a global company and while trade patterns might change we benefit from global commerce no matter where it is," the CEO said.

In June, Tradeshift raised $75 million valuing the company at around $600 million, according to a source close to the situation. The start-up is backed by the likes of HSBC and American Express. It's software allows western businesses to connect and transact with suppliers in China, which is seen as one of the world's biggest manufacturing hubs.

The company sent its first e-invoice in China in May and now does 20 to 30 million transactions per quarter with more than 10 billion renminbi ($1.44 billion) through the platform in September. Lanng said the firm is aiming to do more than half a billion transactions in 2017.


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