Cen­tre at KLIA Aeropo­lis will func­tion as Cus­toms clear­ance, ware­hous­ing and ful­fil­ment fa­cil­ity

New Straits Times - - Business - ZARINA ZAKARIA AND LAILI IS­MAIL KUALA LUMPUR bt@me­di­

ALIBABA Group Hold­ings Ltd, con­trolled by Chi­nese bil­lion­aire Jack Ma, is set­ting up a logistics hub at the KLIA Aeropo­lis in Sepang.

The logistics hub, ex­pected to be launched by end-2019, will form part of the com­pany’s e-hub un­der the Elec­tronic World Trade Plat­form (eWTP) ini­tia­tive.

Alibaba did not dis­close the size of its in­vest­ment.

The hub will “func­tion as a cen­tralised Cus­toms clear­ance, ware­hous­ing and ful­fil­ment fa­cil­ity for Malaysia and the re­gion, to de­liver faster clear­ance for im­ports and ex­ports”, said Alibaba in a state­ment.

The hub is the lat­est in a string of Chi­nese in­vest­ments in Malaysia, in­clud­ing in in­fras­truc­ture and real es­tate projects, un­der­scor­ing the close ties be­tween the two coun­tries.

Both the logistics hub and e-hub are part of a Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) launched by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak and Ma, who is Alibaba’s founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, here yes­ter­day.

Ma said the e-hub, which is its first out­side of China, would go a long way to­wards mak­ing global trade more in­clu­sive and pro­vide much needed sup­port to a hugely im­por­tant con­stituents — small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) and the younger gen­er­a­tion.

“With in­no­va­tion through­out the sup­ply chain, sup­port from gov­ern­ments and im­por­tant pri­vate sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tions, we will achieve our aim of en­abling SMEs and young peo­ple to thrive and en­joy the fruits of the next phase of glob­al­i­sa­tion.”

Ma had in June last year pro­posed the es­tab­lish­ment of a DFTZ for small busi­nesses, sug­gest­ing that such spe­cial trad­ing ar­eas could act as e-com­merce hubs link­ing up mar­kets around the world.

As part of the DFTZ, the cre­ation of the e-hub, which is also a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Malaysia Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Corp, will pro­vide new com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties on the es­tab­lished trade routes with the coun­try.

The con­cept has been in­cor­po­rated into the DFTZ, which saw the in­volve­ment of Alibaba, its sub­sidiaries and af­fil­i­ates in four ar­eas: e-ful­fil­ment hub, e-ser­vice plat­form, e-pay­ment and fi­nanc­ing and e-tal­ent de­vel­op­ment.

Na­jib said Malaysia must har­ness its as­sets and pro­vide sup­port for peo­ple and busi­nesses to be com­pet­i­tive in the dig­i­tal land­scape.

“We have set out plans to progress Malaysia’s econ­omy and place it firmly at the cen­tre of the global mar­ket­place.

“Alibaba Group is at the fore­front of pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment of e-com­merce so­lu­tions, and their am­bi­tions to en­able trade, par­tic­u­larly for SMEs, make them the per­fect part­ner in this new ini­tia­tive,” he added.

Alibaba, through fi­nan­cial ser­vices af­fil­i­ate Ant Fi­nan­cial, also signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Malaysia’s top banks, Malayan Banking Bhd and CIMB Group Hold­ings Bhd, to ex­plore col­lab­o­ra­tion in e-pay­ment and fi­nanc­ing ser­vices.

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