THE prime min­is­ter yes­ter­day launched the world’s first Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone, which will dou­ble the ex­port growth rate of Malaysian SMEs and cre­ate more than 60,000 jobs. The col­lab­o­ra­tion with e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group is in line with plans to pl

New Straits Times - - Front Page - ZARINA ZAKARIAH AND LAILI IS­MAIL KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

MALAYSIA launched the world’s first Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) yes­ter­day, mark­ing a new phase of the close part­ner­ship be­tween the coun­try and China.

The dig­i­tal zone will chart the way for­ward for a dig­i­tal eco­nomic foot­print as it has the po­ten­tial to dou­ble the growth rate of Malaysian small medium en­ter­prises’ (SMEs) goods ex­port by 2025, and the abil­ity to sup­port US$65 bil­lion (RM288 bil­lion) worth of goods mov­ing through DFTZ.

Apart from cre­at­ing 60,000 jobs, the DFTZ will pro­vide phys­i­cal and vir­tual zones to fa­cil­i­tate SMEs to cap­i­talise on the con­ver­gence of ex­po­nen­tial growth of the In­ter­net econ­omy and cross­bor­der e-com­merce ac­tiv­i­ties.

In his speech, Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak de­scribed the launch — with Jack Ma, who is the founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Alibaba Group — as a spe­cial day for not only Malaysia, but also South­east Asia.

With Ma, who later said he picked Malaysia as it was an ef­fi­cient and busi­ness-friendly na­tion to es­tab­lish dig­i­tal econ­omy col­lab­o­ra­tions, Na­jib said the DFTZ was a tes­ta­ment to the coun­try’s com­mit­ment to pro­pel the growth of SMEs through e-com­merce.

“To­gether, I strongly be­lieve we can achieve a more pros­per­ous eco­nomic land­scape that ben­e­fits the in­dus­try and peo­ple,” he said.

The hub will boost the na­tion’s e-com­merce growth and in­crease the sec­tor’s con­tri­bu­tion to the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct to RM211 bil­lion by 2020.

Na­jib added that Malaysia should aim for dou­ble-digit growth from the dig­i­tal econ­omy as trade was key to boost the coun­try’s eco­nomic growth.

Ma, who is also the dig­i­tal eco­nomic ad­viser to the Malaysian gov­ern­ment, said many asked him why he chose to work to­gether on the DFTZ.

“I told them that Malaysia is very busi­ness-friendly and much more ef­fi­cient than I thought,” he said in his speech.

“By work­ing with the gov­ern­ment, busi­nesses can do bet­ter. Trade is about idea and cul­ture ex­change, not just prod­ucts. If the trade stops, war starts.”

“DFTZ is the first hub specif­i­cally de­signed for small busi­nesses and young peo­ple, and we should have real poli­cies and fa­cil­i­ties to em­power them.

“The fact that Malaysia has a lot of SMEs means that the econ­omy can be sus­tain­able as there are more jobs and more mid­dle­class peo­ple.

“DFTZ makes busi­nesses more in­clu­sive and small busi­ness hap­pier and health­ier. Dig­i­tal econ­omy can make this coun­try more pow­er­ful.

“The Silk Road and One World, One Belt should lever­age young peo­ple, use tech­nol­ogy and mo­bilise small busi­nesses to build in­clu­sive­ness, friend­ship and peace,” said Ma,

DFTZ’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of phys­i­cal and vir­tual zones will be done in phases, with the first eFul­fil­ment Hub to be cen­tred at KLIA Aeropo­lis to cater to key clus­ters of air cargo and logistics, aerospace and avi­a­tion.

The ini­tial phase will be rolled out be­fore the end of this year by Alibaba, Cainiao, Lazada and Pos Malaysia, which will then make way for the for­mal launch of Alibaba’s fa­cil­ity at the end of 2019.

The launch also wit­nessed me­moranda of un­der­stand­ing signed be­tween Malaysian Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Cor­po­ra­tion (MDEC) and Alibaba Group; Malaysia Air­port Hold­ings Bhd and Cainiao Net­work; Ali­pay and May­bank; Ali­pay and CIMB; as well as MDEC and Catcha Group. Page 1 pic: Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak and Alibaba Group founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Jack Ma at the launch of Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.


Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak and Alibaba Group founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Jack Ma (fifth from right) at the of­fi­cial launch of Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone at Man­darin Ori­en­tal Ho­tel in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

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