Ma: DFTZ plan took 10 mins to become a done deal


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 23 Mar 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Alibaba Group, the technology giant owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, will set up an e-commerce and logistics hub in Malaysia to spur young entrepreneurs to venture out of the country.

This would be part of Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), a plan which took only 10 minutes for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and him to agree on, Ma said.

And four months later, it has become a reality, said the founder of Alibaba.

“My team and I thought, ‘Is this possible? We have been discussing it (for longer) with many European and other Asean countries.

“But Malaysia is very business-friendly and much more efficient than I thought,” he said.

Ma, who was appointed digital economy advisor to the Government last year, said the e-hub would empower young entrepreneurs and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) dreaming about venturing overseas.

Referring to the Silk Road which he said was globalisation in its day, Ma said China’s tea leaves could be exported to other countries because of tin containers made in Malaysia, illustrating the mutually beneficial nature of trade, even in the 18th century.

“Without Malaysia, the Silk Road would not have been that successful.

“I am a strong believer in globalisation. It is still a baby and we should give it another 20 to 30 years, make it more inclusive and get more people involved,” he said.

Ma said that Malaysian SMEs account for less than 40% of the country’s economic growth.

He hoped that eventually 90% of SMEs would contribute 80% of Malaysia’s GDP.

At the launch yesterday, Alibaba Group and its affiliates signed memorandums of understanding with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd, CIMB and Maybank.

As part of the DFTZ, the regional e-commerce and logistics hub will be located at KLIA Aeropolis on the 17.5ha site of the former Low-Cost Carrier Terminal.

It is expected to be rolled out by year end, with a formal launch targetted for end 2019.

The e-hub, the first out of China, will function as a centralised customs clearance, warehousing and fulfilment facility for Malaysia and the region.

Alibaba also has plans for an e-service platform, e-payment and financing initiative, and e-talent development.

Malaysia’s DFTZ vision would complement Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Programme to build an inclusive, free and innovative global trading platform for SMEs, young entrepreneurs and consumers.

Ma is scheduled to speak at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 today.

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