Ma says next 30 years will define Asia

Ma says next 30 years will define Asia

ACD Summit closes with technology focus

China's richest man, Jack Ma, says it will take '30 critical years' to get fully internet-integrated including replacing huge companies with small business. (Photo courtesy of Government House)
China's richest man, Jack Ma, says it will take '30 critical years' to get fully internet-integrated including replacing huge companies with small business. (Photo courtesy of Government House)

The next 30 years will be critical for the digital age because of online and offline retail platforms, the Internet of Things, internet-based financing for greater financial inclusion and new technological knowledge, says Chinese internet billionaire and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma.

Mr Ma spoke Monday about technological trends at a meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) leaders and private sector representatives. The session was held during the 2nd ACD Summit, attended by leaders from 34 countries and business delegations. The summit concluded Monday.

Mr Ma said he believed the technological revolution has a time span of 50 years, with the first 20 characterised by technological knowledge, and the last 30 by technological inclusion.

"Data will be the new resource. So the next 30 years are critical for all nations in the ACD. To Asia, it is very critical," he said.

He recalled that few people believed Chinese e-commerce could grow rapidly due to poor infrastructure for online trading.

"Today, we [China] have the most mobile phone users in Asia. By using mobile phones, we can connect more than 4 billion people and leverage mobile technology for them to do business anywhere," he said. "The internet was invented in America, but I'm sure Asia can make full use of it."

He disagreed that globalisation was a problem causing the global economic slowdown, but said countries should make globalisation more inclusive for young people and small businesses to prepare for future challenges.

"In the past 30 years, globalisation featured 60,000 big companies. What if we can make hundreds and thousands of small businesses get involved? If we can make small businesses get involved in e-commerce [and] global trade, that would help a lot.

"In the next 20 to 30 years, small is beautiful and powerful. We should give small businesses, developing nations and young people more opportunities."

Mr Ma reaffirmed the need for an "e-road", akin to the Silk Road, to help small businesses flourish.

"In the future, no matter how small a country is [or] your business is, if you have a big heart, open mind, and embrace tech knowledge and inclusive globalisation, you can be powerful too."

Mr Ma disagreed with the notion that technology is killing jobs, saying that was "yesterday's thinking". Alibaba Group has created more than 30 million jobs in China, he said.

Countries should build up infrastructure for small businesses and young people, he said.

Technology can help approve loans for small businesses within three minutes and it will take only one second to receive e-money loans without any physical interaction, Mr Ma said.

Governments should also prioritise policies for people younger than 30 and small companies with less than 30 employees, he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the summit approved the Bangkok Declaration 2017-2021 on Green and Sustainable Development and the ACD Vision for Asia Cooperation 2030 that would help share wealth among new generations for years to come.

He said the gathering of Asian leaders in Bangkok sends a global message that Asia is ready to grow inclusively, with unity and sustainability as key principles.

"Asia is ready to grow inclusively, with a combined alliance to push forward the Asian Community into the future," Gen Prayut said.

Besides being recognised for its diverse art, culture, tourist sites and geography, Asia currently has the world's largest economy and market size, he said.

South Asia is the region which registers the fastest economic growth rates, with this year's growth estimated at 7.1% and 7.3% for next year, said Gen Prayut, citing World Bank figures.

Southeast Asia is also known for having a rapid growth of top-notch business operators, said Gen Prayut. "We [Asia] have sufficient capability to drive the global economy amid the global economic slowdown," he said.

Gen Prayut also congratulated the United Arab Emirates for being named the host for the 15th ACD Ministerial Meeting next January, and Iran which is set to host the 3rd ACD Summit in 2018.

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