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Amazon is on a hiring spree in China, exclusive data shows

Heidi Chung

The trade war between the U.S. and China is raging on, and it has threatened many American companies and their businesses in China. But Amazon (AMZN) is actually ramping things up in the world’s second largest economy, according to data from Thinknum, a company that surfaces alternative data culled from the web.

Despite recently calling it quits with its marketplace operations in China, the e-commerce behemoth has been quietly boosting its job postings in the country, across several different regions, perhaps signaling more expansion there. According to Thinknum, job postings at Amazon in China have increased by 475% from its low in January of 2018.

Amazon job listings in China (Yahoo Finance/David Foster)

Amazon’s struggle to get into China’s e-commerce marketplace

After more than a decade, Amazon announced in April that it would be closing down its domestic e-commerce marketplace in China.

“We are notifying sellers we will no longer operate a marketplace on Amazon.cn and we will no longer be providing seller services on Amazon.cn effective July 18. We are working closely with our sellers to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to deliver the best customer experience possible,” an Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in a statement. “Sellers interested in continuing to sell on Amazon outside of China are able to do so through Amazon Global Selling.”

A Chinese girl is buying goods from Amazon.cn. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Amazon was never able to get into marketplace in a strong way,” Stephen Rector, founder and president of Bakertown Consulting, said to Yahoo Finance. “Based on the dominance that they have in other parts of the globe, it’s almost better to walk away from a place where your market share is so low.”

Meanwhile, following months of threats, President Donald Trump slapped the first round of tariffs on Chinese goods in July. At the time, Amazon had 410 jobs posted in China, but those listings have grown to 535 jobs listings, a 30% increase, according to data compiled by Thinknum. That provides further evidence that rather than reeling from the effects of the trade war, Amazon might just be chugging along as it looks to expand.

Amazon expects to grow in China in other ways

The company said it will still continue to operate its other businesses in the country.

“Amazon’s commitment to China remains strong—we have built a solid foundation here in a number of successful businesses and we will continue to invest and grow in China across Amazon Global Store, Global Selling, AWS, Kindle devices and content,” according to a spokesperson for Amazon.

The evolving Amazon job listings in China (Thinknum)

Since the start of 2018, according to Thinknum data, Amazon was slowly bringing down the number of customer service and stock management job listings. Then a couple of months later, the company announced on April 18 that it would be shutting down its China marketplace.

However since then, Amazon has been ratcheting up other jobs listings. There are currently 124 “sales, advertising and account management” positions listed, 69 “solutions architect” positions and 54 “software development” positions.

Apple appears to be scaling back job listings

Meanwhile, other U.S. companies are facing the wrath of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Unlike Amazon, iPhone maker and American tech giant Apple (AAPL) has been decreasing its job postings in China, according to data from Thinknum. Apple had been steadily increasing job postings in China and after peaking in May of 2018, the listings have since fallen 28% from 395 total listings to 283.

Apple jobs listings in China (Yahoo Finance/David Foster)

Apple has been struggling with a slowdown in iPhone sales in China. During the most recent earnings announcement in May, Apple revealed that iPhone sales in China fell 22% year over year.

The uncertainty surrounding the trade war has been weighing on investors and many companies around the world. But so far, Amazon seems to be holding up pretty well underneath the surface.

When asked about China on Amazon’s earnings conference call on April 25, CFO Brian Olsavsky said, “the business in China is going really well, and we continue to see strong growth there. And launching the Hong Kong region gets us to a footprint of 19 cities in China. So it continues to be a really good story for us.”

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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