The Electronic World Trade Platform, or eWTP can form a key building block for Globalisation 4.0, says Jack Ma, speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.
The Alibaba-led initiative is a a collaboration between the e-commerce giant, the World Trade Organization and the World Economic Forum and is essentially a new platform from Alibaba which allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to build globalised businesses.
“We believe in globalisation,” Ma told the Davos 2019 audience. “But many don’t believe in it because it is not inclusive. How can we improve it? In the last 20 years, globalisation was controlled by 60,000 companies worldwide, imagine if we could expand that to 60 million businesses.”
The eWTP officially debuted in December in Rwanda and will be implemented in other countries in the coming months. “We want to convince countries where the government has the wisdom and the courage to support small business… that’s the vision,” Ma says.
In Rwanda farms are now selling coffee direct through the platform, which facilitates tariff-free trade for transactions of less than USD 1.0 million. Coffee is already being sold through this platform to Chinese customers Ma says, adding that farmers, who used to get around USD 8.0 per kg, are now getting USD 12 per kg.
Jack Ma says this is a pioneering methodology for Globalisation 4.0: “I have spoken to the WTO and think it needs to be upgraded to the second version, focus on developing countries, focus on young people and entrepreneurs.”
The problem with many free trade zones is that they are designed only for big companies, adds Ma. “We think there should be free trade zones for small companies: 24 hour customs clearing, if you are below USD 1.0 million exporting to other countries it should be tariff free.”
Belgium became the first European country to become a member of the Alibaba-led Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), after it signed a a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba in early December last year.