China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba this week launched a trading and logistics hub in Malaysia as part of its efforts to establish an electronic world trade platform that it hopes will help create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route.
The Malaysian electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), set up in collaboration with the Malaysia Digital Economy Cooperation (MDEC) agency, is the first of its kind outside Alibaba’s home base in
It will comprise a regional logistics centre, which will be located within the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Aeropolis, a 10,000ha free trade zone development and managed by airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings. It is expected to generate more than RM7 billion (US$1.9bn) worth of domestic and foreign investments.
An accompanying electronic platform will enable its users - primarily small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - to conduct cross-border trade without bureaucratic hurdles.
Fostering global trade
The e-hub, to be developed by the end of 2019, will “function as a centralised customs clearance, warehousing and fulfilment facility for Malaysia and the region, to deliver faster clearance for imports and exports,” said Alibaba's founder and chairman Jack Ma at the hub's inauguration. The event was also attended by Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, cabinet ministers and prominent business leaders.
Alibaba eyes third e-Hub
Ma said that “The first e-hub under the eWTP outside of China will go a long way towards making global trade more inclusive and provide much needed support for SMEs and the younger generation.” He added that the global network, which would complement the World Trade Organsiation, could take up to up three decades to complete.
In a visit to Australia in February, Ma talked to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull about the creation of an e-hub there. Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s chief executive, said the company was “discussing very actively” the establishment of a third hub, but did not provide further details.
Nol van Fenema