Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Wednesday that it is setting up the secretariat for its electronic World Trade Platform in Hangzhou, so that the permanent liaison office could help boost the initiative's footprint at home and abroad.
As an eWTP institution, the secretariat is responsible for the daily operations, international cooperation, training and exchange programs, achievement displays and the release of rules and models, according to company officials.
The secretariat, located in the Xixi National Wetland Park close to Alibaba's headquarters, is slated to be operational from October next year.
"As the initiator of eWTP, Alibaba is a pioneer in combining business services with technology capabilities," said Eric Jing, a partner of Alibaba and chairman of Ant Financial Services Group, its payment arm. He said that the secretariat is on course to establishing similar platforms with other eWTP hubs in Malaysia and Belgium.
The secretariat is likely to play a pivotal role in constructing eWTP, which is aimed at lowering trade barriers through technological empowerment, and pushing ahead with some of the world's best digital economy practices in Hangzhou, according to the city's vice-mayor Hu Wei.
"We hope the secretariat will … enhance our connections with international organizations and institutions like the World Economic Forum and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, organize high-level training with relevant government agencies and companies, and promote the sharing of 'Chinese experience' on digital economy with the rest of the world," he said during the launch ceremony.
In a parallel development, a public service platform under the auspices of eWTP will also debut in Hangzhou, allowing small-and medium-sized enterprises engaged in cross-border business to access a unified electronic "operating system", the company said.
SMEs thus stand to benefit from a one-stop solution for online customs clearance, settlement exchange, tax refunds, as well as logistics and financial services.
Hangzhou Customs completed in September tests on a cross-border e-commerce bonded area, paving the way for SMEs to realize the "Buy from the Globe and Sell to the Globe" vision, said Zhang Yi, vice-director of Hangzhou Customs.
Since it was first proposed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma in 2016, the eWTP has been recognized by the G20, and adopted by cities in China, Malaysia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Belgium.
In the latest attempt, Ethiopia joined the eWTP last month to develop a multifunction digital trade hub to serve as a gateway for Ethiopian products to China, a center for cross-border e-commerce and trade within Africa, and a training center.
The drive also included implementing the capacity building and training, which consists of a number of programs, including specialized programs for Ethiopian entrepreneurs, business leaders and university lecturers.
At home, Yiwu, a city in Zhejiang province known for manufacturing and exporting small commodities, agreed to join eWTP on digitizing trade infrastructure and developing additional trade flows for the city. The venture also plans to work on innovations in trade finance and establish a smart logistics hub there.
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