Jack Ma: Electronic World Trade Platform benefits globalization
"We believe in globalization. It's helped a lot of countries grow in the past 30 or 40 years, especially countries like China. But it's not inclusive,” says Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, at Davos on Wednesday.
In Ma's view, globalization should be improved. The developing country, small businesses, and young people should all be involved. "In the last 20 years, globalization was controlled by 60,000 companies worldwide. Imagine if we could expand that to 60 million small businesses,” says Ma.
More than 2.2 billion consumers are online in emerging markets, and 550 million are making at least one online purchase per year.
Ma says that the world is expecting a new form of globalization. In the next 30 years, the new model should be that business makes decisions, while the government provides support.
According to Rwanda President Paul Kagame, farmers in the country are already selling coffee directly through the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), which facilitates tariff-free trade for transactions of less than 1 million U.S. dollars. Coffee is already being sold through this platform to new markets, such as China, where farmers get 12 U.S. dollars per kilogram, four U.S. dollars more than they used to get.
"Most free trade zones today are designed for big companies. There should be free trade zones for small companies to import and export, 24-hour clear off custom office," says Ma.
An important part of the eWTP is tariff-free trade for small businesses. The platform is designed to operate on low functionality mobile phones in developing countries.
The eWTP agreement was signed last October between the Rwandan government and Alibaba. The signing makes Rwanda the first African country to launch eWTP. It was proposed by Jack Ma with aims to promote public-private dialogue to foster a more effective and efficient policy and business environment to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in cross-border electronic trade.