Alibaba's Ma warns of stifled e-commerce

Alibaba's Ma warns of stifled e-commerce

Developing countries looking to e-commerce as a way to bolster their emerging economies need to prioritise the sector's growth instead of creating regulations and taxes that could kill it in its infancy, Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma told a recent UN gathering in Geneva.

"I hope we have regulations to encourage entrepreneurs, to encourage infrastructure investment and to reduce tax policies for e-commerce companies," said Mr Ma, who is also the special adviser on youth entrepreneurship and small business to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad).

Mr Ma's comments came during Unctad's annual E-Commerce Week convention, which this year focused on ways to make cross-border e-commerce more inclusive and accessible for countries that lack the technology, infrastructure and know-how to reap its benefits.

The Alibaba founder called on policymakers to propose regulations for e-commerce that specifically supported small businesses and their development.

Mr Ma has brought up the issue repeatedly over the past year, calling for more inclusive e-commerce by way of an electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), which would make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in the global economy.

The eWTP would offer simple and straightforward regulations for SMEs, lower barriers for entry into new markets and facilitate access to financing, giving them competitive support against much bigger multinational companies.

Mr Ma has also repeatedly touted the benefits that e-commerce can bring to developing countries, whether by levelling the playing field between large and small companies, allowing those small companies to transcend geographic boundaries or allowing for more flexible and inclusive employment.

Within China, Alibaba said it has created 30 million job opportunities in the world's second-largest economy, most notably among young people, rural communities and disadvantaged groups. For example, 126,000 disabled e-merchants made annual sales of 12.1 billion yuan on Taobao in 2016.

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