KUALA LUMPUR: Jack Ma's Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) will play a complimentary role to China's One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.
Ma, who is the executive chairman of the AliBaba Group, said that the creation of the eWTP is not an initiative by the Chinese government, but his own, as he seeks to help empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as well as young entrepreneurs.
"The eWTP can be considered as a private sector movement within the OBOR, which is driven by China. China will drive the next rounds of globalisation and Asian countries will benefit a lot, and I think today, OBOR is driven by the big companies," he said in a press conference at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 (GTF2017).
"The OBOR needs private companies like Ali Baba supporting small businesses and working together. We pay special attention to the OBOR initiative, and with the eWTP, we can make OBOR more lively," he added.
Ma stressed, however, that the eWTP is not just limited within the scope of the OBOR.
"It is our initiative, we want to be part of the OBOR, but the eWTP is not just about the OBOR. We also pay attention to South America – and later, I am also going to Africa," he said.
The eWTP envisions the creation of digital free-trade zones where SMEs can easily plug into global trade via e-commerce.
The zones offer simple and straightforward regulations, lower barriers for entry into new markets and provide small businesses with easier access to financing.
Yesterday, Ma, alongside Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, announced plans for Malaysia to host the e-commerce giant’s first eWTP.
"I know a lot of people want to know the size of investments that we are putting into the hub, but I want you to go beyond that. The creation of the first eWTP here is not just about money alone, but about the commitment Ali Baba is putting in here.
"Because, when we go into a country, we are not interested (in being) a major shareholder in the company we created. This is not Ali Baba in Malaysia, but a Malaysian business. We cannot grow on our own, we grow with partners.
"Ultimately, we want our partners here to own, control and manage the company," he said.
Ma said this is how he will operate in all the countries he will have a presence in, as he believes a company can only grow better with good partners.
Ma had earlier delivered a talk entitled "Alo Baba Transformation: The Jack Ma Way" to over 3,000 delegates, from across 76 countries at the GTF2017.