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KUALA LUMPUR: March 23, 2017. Alibaba is to partner with the state-run Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to host what company executive chairman Jack Ma describes as an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP).

His idea is to create digital free-trade zones in various parts of the world to provide SMEs with lower barriers of entry into new eCommerce markets, via simple regulations and access to financing.

Malaysia airlinesIn 2016 the eWTP was included in the official communiqué of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, where Alibaba is headquartered: "I laid out the vision for eWTP last year, and we, as a company, have taken on the responsibility to make this a reality," Ma said. "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 to a hugely important constituent: SMEs and the younger generation."

Alibaba says Malaysia had been looking for ways to position itself as a fulfillment and logistics center, expand its Internet economy and attract foreign investment. This led to the agreement last October between Ma and the country's prime minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak to set up the e-hub.

"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 perfect partner in this new initiative," Najib said. "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."

In addition to Alibaba and its Cainiao Network, e-hub partners will include Malaysia Airports Holdings (MAH), Ant Financial and the Malaysian banks CIMB and Maybank. The group will provide Customs clearance and warehousing via a fulfillment hub at Kuala Lumpur International Airport; an online cross-border trading platform link with the original eWTP in Hangzhou; e-payments and financing for BtB trade; and training programs for startups.

Alibaba and Malaysia expect to extend their partnership to include logistics, cloud computing and online finance with Cainiao working with MAH to set up an e-commerce and logistics hub at Kuala Lumpur airport.

"With innovation throughout the supply chain, support from governments and important private sector collaborations, we will achieve our aim of enabling SMEs and young people to thrive and enjoy in the fruits of the next phase of globalization," Ma declared.

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