By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM
The development of Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) is not dependent on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.
He said Alibaba is a minor part of DFTZ, as the zone is inclusive of other global e-commerce players and budding local firms.
“The cooperation with Alibaba will allow local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to conduct cross-border trade and it is not the only platform under the DFTZ.
“There are other players including locals who are creating their own platforms,” Gobind told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
He was responding to MP Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar), who asked the government whether to continue with the DFTZ, which was a project spearheaded by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.
Najib and Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma launched the world’s first dedicated e-commerce free trade zone last year.
The DFTZ aims to double the nation’s e-commerce growth and increase the sector’s gross domestic product contribution to RM211 billion by 2020.
Gobind said Malaysia Digital Economy Corp Sdn Bhd (MDEC) is also working with other platforms under the DFTZ.
Apart from Alibaba, other platforms such as Amazon.com, eBay, Jocom, eRomman, Lazada.com.my, Jin- BaoMen, tradeindia.com, DagangHalal. com, AladdinStreet.com.my and Buy- Malaysia have been operating in the DFTZ.
MDEC reported that up to April 2018, 70 SMEs had benefitted from the DFTZ and generated sales worth RM52.1 million with an export value of RM18.1 million. MDEC is the lead agency in driving the digital economy in Malaysia.
The minister also assured lawmakers that the Pakatan Harapan-led government would continue with the DFTZ initiative to make Malaysia the gateway for e-commerce in the region.
Gobind said efforts are to be intensified to ensure that more SMEs join the DFTZ and use it as a platform to market their products abroad.
He said cross-border online businesses would become the main business of the future and, as such, SMEs should be encouraged to participate in the sector.
“The government will continue implementing initiatives that benefit SMEs. The government will also monitor the performance of SME exports through this platform, so that they continue to be viable in the long run,” he added.
Gobind said since the DFTZ was implemented in 2017, a total of 3,300 SMEs have joined the platform.
On the impact to air cargo, the establishment of the KLIA Aeropolis DFTZ park is expected to double the country’s air cargo volume to 1.3 million tonnes within 10 years.
Meanwhile, Ma said he was surprised and astonished at what Malaysia has achieved since the DFTZ idea was mooted two years ago.
“The government took away all barriers to make this happen and they did all these things today what took China years to do.
“Although many countries have SMEs, Malaysia is the first one to do this for their people, and I promise I will do my best to make it the best and continue to develop it,” he said.