Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), the country’s government-backed agency in promoting digital economy, is in talks with several e-commerce players for possible tie-up to enhance the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ).
The government body is in negotiations with e-commerce players specifically from marketplace, logistic and trade facilitation from various countries including China and the United States, MDEC’s chief operating officer Ng Wan Peng told Xinhua in a recent interview.
She hoped a new partnership can be formed by year-end.
“We are open to working with any player who finds Malaysia conducive in doing business, and at the same time, we see value from it,” she said, highlighting that DFTZ’s two key objectives are to help Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to export, and to make the country as a regional logistic hub in e-commerce trading.
DFTZ, which was introduced on March 22, saw Alibaba Group as its first partner. It is also the first hub of the Electronic World Trade Plaform outside China, which is proposed by Alibaba founder and executive chariman Jack Ma to promote cross-border trade.
Under Malaysia’s national e-commerce strategic roadmap, the DFTZ aims at doubling Malaysia’s e-commerce growth to 20.8 percent from 10.8 percent now.
“We see Malaysia very fortunate to have Alibaba as the DFTZ’s first strategic partner as Alibaba is a well-established group that has the vision to help the SMEs across the world,” Ng said, adding that Malaysians are benefitting as Alibaba is willing to promote Malaysian products.
She is confident that Alibaba can replicate its success in China by nurturing more Malaysian SMEs to compete in global market.
The DFTZ has gone live on with more than 1,900 export-ready SMEs signed on to participate. According to Ng, these SMEs are mainly involved in electrical and electronics products, food, snacks, pharmaceutical products, apparels, which are popular in e-commerce industry.
“These areas will continue to be our focus,” said Ng, who is positive with the growth prospect as the participants have outpaced the government’s target of 1500.
“Our hope is to get all export-ready SMEs onboard by using the DFTZ to export to the world. We know it is not something that we can achieve over-night, but we hope to see the successful cases of DFTZ to attract more SMEs to use the platform,” she said.
According to her, there are 900,000 SMEs in Malaysia, and most of them are in retail businesses, which the agency is targeting.
“However, we need to break the number down as among these SMEs, perhaps only 30 percent is selling products. Then out of these retailers, may be only 10 percent is eyeing for exports,” she explained.
To her, the biggest challenge in promoting the DFTZ now is the slow adoption of e-commerce technology among Malaysian SMEs. Thus, the government agency needs to continue educating them in adopting technology, reports Xinhua, Kuala Lumpur.