Alibaba hub to launch next month

Alibaba hub to launch next month

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group expects its smart digital hub project in Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) to get off the ground in April.

Angel Zhao, head of the globalisation leadership group at Alibaba, told Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana Wednesday that the group will settle an investment plan for the smart digital hub in the EEC in March, with investment possibly starting in April.

Alibaba is scheduled to meet the industry minister in two weeks to conclude details of investment projects in Thailand.

Alibaba's investment pledge comes after founder and chief executive Jack Ma signed a cooperation pact with the government a few years ago.

The investment in the EEC is part of the Thai government's effort to attract foreign investors in targeted EEC sectors.

The EEC spans 30,000 rai in the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao. The corridor's 10 targeted industries are next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

Mr Somkid said Alibaba's smart digital hub project will function as a logistics hub not just for Thailand, but also Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Mr Uttama said Alibaba has already purchased 300 rai of land in EEC areas to develop the smart digital hub, which will feature a distribution centre, logistics facility, production plant, training centre for Thailand's small and medium-sized enterprises, and processing centre.

He said the first phase of Alibaba investment will be in warehousing, logistics and R&D, as the group aims to use Thailand as its digital investment base in the region.

The second phase of investment will be made in education to help upgrade Thailand's human resources.

Mr Somkid said Thailand has also proposed that Alibaba include tourism information in its platform to attract more Chinese visitors to Thailand, especially the new generations seeking fresh destinations.

Thailand also asked Alibaba to join Thai educational institutions in developing digital technology courses.

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