China’s retailer behemoth Alibaba Group announced on Thursday its plan to build a cross-border e-commerce platform in Chinese commodities capital Yiwu City of Zhejiang Province, helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the world’s largest wholesale trading hub gain more exposure to overseas opportunities.
Alibaba and the municipal government of Yiwu have announced a strategic partnership to develop a digitized comprehensive bonded zone under the Jack Ma-proposed eWTP (electronic World Trade Platform) framework, aiming to develop a cross-border trade service platform for Yiwu. This platform will offer SMEs digitized trade services, including customs clearance, foreign exchange settlement and tax procedures, according to the company’s press release on Monday.
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“With its advantages as a product and a SME hub as well as its existing trade infrastructure, Yiwu is the definition of strategic planning for enabling businesses to navigate the digital age,” said Daniel Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group. “Alibaba will work with Yiwu to further facilitate the city’s transformation into a digitized small commodities trading hub and digitized port as a step toward the collective goal of complete digitization of global trade.”
Known as the “commodities city” in China, Yiwu in Zhejiang Province is home to world’s largest wholesale market with over 75,000 small- and medium-sized booths, and the niche of products being sold in the market span over 400,000 types of products. Around 60 to 70 percent of them are exported to more than 200 countries and regions.
According to the company, an offline exhibition area to showcase cross-border products is scheduled for pilot launch in mid-September. Consumers shopping in the exhibition will be able to see a variety of imported products offered by merchants in Alibaba’s marketplace, pay and complete the transaction process right away.
Alibaba has established five eWTP hubs around the world in Belgium, Malaysia, Rwanda and the Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Yiwu. Initiated by Jack Ma in 2016, the eWTP is a private-sector-led, multi-stakeholder initiative that incubates new trade rules and fosters a more-integrated policy and business environment to help develop global trade and the digital economy.