On Tuesday, the Chinese ecommerce platform Alibaba.com opened to U.S. sellers, giving them a conduit to a global marketplace of buyers. Previously, U.S. businesses were only able to buy on the platform, which caters to business-to-business transactions. The U.S. International Trade Commission values the B2B ecommerce market at $23.9 trillion—roughly six times larger than the B2C ecommerce market.

Reuters reports that while U.S. businesses account for roughly one-third of Alibaba.com’s buyers, more than 95 percent of the sellers are from China. The move comes as growth in the company’s ecommerce revenues are slowing and the U.S.-China trade dispute raises tensions.

To participate, U.S. sellers pay a fee of approximately $2,000 to get their store on the platform up and running, in addition to any marketing or advertising expenditures. In contrast, Amazon charges third-party sellers using its platform on a monthly or by-item basis. To help U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses successfully access its platform, Alibaba.com is co-producing a series of "Build Up" workshops and webinars with local chambers of commerce and B2B organizations across the country.

Office Depot and fruit and vegetable wholesaler Robinson Fresh are some of the initial U.S. brands on the platform, coming on board as “Anchor sellers.” Anchor sellers provide extensive product catalogs to meet the expanding interests of the platform's audience of buyers. The participation of Anchor Sellers is intended to bring significant benefits, including generating new buyer interest that occurs when product selection expands.

"Alibaba aims to empower entrepreneurs and help them succeed on their own terms," says John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group. "With 10 million active business buyers in over 190 countries and regions, we are reshaping B2B commerce by providing the tools and services needed for U.S. small- to medium-sized companies to compete and succeed in today's global marketplace."