Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba launched a Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), the first expansion of the company’s World Trade Platform outside China, on Friday in Sepang, Malaysia.
It has been just one year since Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak first discussed about working together to boost e-commerce and establish a logistics hub for Southeast Asia.
At the launching ceremony, Ma and Razak broke ground for the creation of the sprawling zone called Aeropolis, which will be home to Alibaba’s e-fulfillment hub for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Immediate benefits from the partnership will be felt with the Digital Free Trade Zone going online Friday.
“We’ll witness a historical moment that from today, in Asia, one country, the small business can use digital ways to enable themselves to sell things, to buy things, to reach the money all across the world. This is what we feel so excited about,” said Ma.
Malaysia’s ICT agency had expected 1,500 small and medium enterprises to sign up by the launch. Now around 2,000 enterprises have done so.
“This is the part that will provide the growth, the potential, the impetus, the catalyst for us to change, redefine regional global trade, redefine the role of SMS, and redefine the partnership of not only Alibaba and Malaysia, but Malaysia and China,” said Razak.
Alibaba has already boosted its presence in Southeast Asia by acquiring e-commerce company Lazada Group. Alipay is also becoming far more common.
The likes of Amazon and China’s JD.com are also keen to expand in Southeast Asia. Alibaba hopes the creation of the new regional outposts for its e-commerce and logistics platforms will help keep them out in front. Reuters