National roadmap to double e-commerce growth by 2020

The National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap is expected to double the e-commerce annual growth rate from 10.8% in 2016 to 20.8% in 2020, as an effort to ensure that the sector becomes one of the primary drivers of growth in the Malaysian economy.

The roadmap, launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak on Oct 3, aims to boost the sector’s gross domestic product contribution to RM170 billion by 2020.

Minister for International Trade and Industry (MITI) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed underlined the importance of the e-commerce agenda, saying it is a “very important subset” of the government’s digital economy master plan.

Mustapa said the roadmap is cognisant of current developments, particularly in the context of international trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

“TPPA, of course, has its e-commerce agenda and in some cases, we are probably more advanced than some of these agreements that we have negotiated,” Mustapa told reporters at a press briefing yesterday.

“What’s important is this roadmap has taken all current developments into consideration. If there is a need for a revision, there will be changes. It is not cast in stone,” he added.

The roadmap was drafted by the National e-Commerce Council (NECC), a coalition of 13 ministries and agencies, under which six thrust areas of intervention have been identified, including lifting non-tariff barriers, realigning existing economic incentives and promoting national brand to boost cross-border e-commerce.

Eleven programmes will be carried out under the roadmap, which will be led by different lead agencies such as MITI, SME Corp Malaysia, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Finance Ministry.

Mustapa did not discount the possibility of monetary incentives to promote the growth of e-commerce in Malaysia.

“The NECC is set up to listen to suggestions from industries and we will respond in a manner that will facilitate the growth of e-commerce in this country. At present, it is just to help them with regulatory aspects, but in the future there may be (monetary incentives),” Mustapa said.

Commenting on how the appointment of Jack Ma would fit into the e-commerce agenda, Mustapa said the government is confident that Ma will provide a lot of useful inputs into government policies.

“He is an iconic leader in this segment of the economy and his advice is being sought by many countries. All of us are looking forward to his coming here in March.”

On Nov 4, Chinese Internet tycoon Jack Ma was appointed as Malaysia’s digital economy advisor during Najib’s weeklong official visit to China.

The founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is expected to the launch of the country’s e-free trade zone in March next year.

Meanwhile, Mustapa — when commenting on the TPPA — stressed that Malaysia continues to “keep an open mind” about it, saying that it is too early to take a definitive stand on the matter.

“Although (US President-elect Donald) Trump has come up with a statement on Nov 21, I think we have to wait for more clarity after Jan 20, 2017, after his inauguration (which will reveal) his new policies and also the people running the trade agenda under his administration,” he said, in response to Trump’s remarks.