By China Daily
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd expects to complete the construction of an e-commerce and logistics hub in Thailand by 2019, taking the internet behemoth closer to Southeast Asian economies and its goal of lessening its reliance on the Chinese market.
Under an agreement signed with the Thai government in December, Alibaba vowed to help develop the country’s e-commerce sector through providing training to small businesses and individuals, and exploring ways to enhance its logistics capabilities.
Alibaba said the hub is designed to provide a one-stop service connecting SMEs, manufacturers, service providers and logistics partners, complementing its existing investment in Lazada Group, a dominant regional e-commerce platform in which Alibaba holds a majority stake.
“We hope the park will empower Thailand’s innovative internet startups and boost the country’s technology ecosystem,” the statement added.
Under the agreement, Alibaba and its subsidiary Lazada will offer e-commerce training to 30,000 Thai SMEs to aid their access to both domestic and international e-commerce platforms and nurture software developers.
The deal also calls for Alibaba to advise the country’s postal service－Thailand Post－on shipping and logistics.
The Chinese online giant is marching into a region on the cusp of a digital shopping boom, fueled by fast-growing mobile phone usage.
Consultancy eMarketer projects that e-commerce sales, excluding travel, will grow at a rate exceeding 15 percent in Thailand annually over the next four years, reaching $5.69 billion by 2020.
In a similar move, Alibaba in March established the first digital free trade zone dubbed Electronic World Trade Platform in Malaysia, offering small businesses lower barriers for entry and easier access to financing.
“Alibaba’s investment here will be different from that in Malaysia, where it is expected to be an e-commerce platform only. In contrast, its investment in Thailand will be broader, covering production platforms … particularly in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam,” Thai Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying.
Further reporting by China Report ASEAN:
Alibaba, founded by Chinese celebrity billionaire Jack Ma in 1999, is symbolic of China’s tech boom. The company’s e-commerce platforms, such as Tmall and Taobao, are household names in China, handling millions of purchases every day. Last year, Alibaba surpassed Walmart to become the world’s largest retailer with operations in over 190 countries.
The move into Southeast Asia, through its subsidiary Lazada, will enhance Alibaba’s standing in a region that analysts see as a key growth region over the coming years. It can also help to advance Southeast Asia’s nascent e-commerce industry.