Alibaba to set up e-commerce hub in Malaysia

Jack Ma, Alibaba's co-founder and executive chairman, has been appointed as a digital economy advisor to the government.

The "e-hub" in Malaysia will be the first such facility outside China, and will see collaboration between Alibaba affiliates and other Malaysian firms.

Drawing reference to the Silk Road, which he referred to as the "first globalisation", Ma said the export of China's tea leaves were possible as they were placed in containers made of tin sourced from Malaysia. The eWTP concept envisions the creation of digital free-trade zones where small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can easily plug into global trade via e-commerce. It is an ambitious project to place Malaysia on the map as the epicentre of Southeast Asia's Internet economy.

First proposed by Ma at the G20 summit in Hangzhou a year ago, the concept envisions a future where small and medium-sized enterprises can easily practice e-commerce in digital free-trade zones with lower trade barriers and equitable access to global markets. He will share his ideas and experience to support the growth of Malaysia's economy through the development of the DFTZ.

The exchanges include between Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Alibaba Group; Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd and Cainiao Network; Alipay and Maybank; Alipay and CIMB; as well as MDEC and Catcha Group. "This is an exciting development for the country, and to be an early participant in eWTP will provide a plethora of opportunities for Malaysian organizations".

"Alibaba Group is at the forefront of private-sector development of e-commerce solutions, and their ambitions to enable trade, particularly for SMEs, make them the ideal partner in this new initiative", Najib said of Malaysia's DFTZ.

The e-hub is just a first step in the move toward a more-robust eWTP.

To cater to the company's fast-growing business in Malaysia, Alibaba's Cloud division will build a cloud-computing platform in Malaysia to support businesses, while also offering training to potential engineers in the country.

The DFTZ initiative is a part of the National E-commerce Strategic Roadmap launched late past year.

"For all the angst about China's slowing economy, its retail sector is growing at about five times the pace of the US and looks set to definitively overtake the dollar value of USA trade this year", said the report.

  • Zachary Reyes