Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, today urged WTO members to adopt easier and transparent rules for e-commerce so as to support small businesses and encourage them to succeed in the global marketplace. “E-commerce is future…it is the solution for small business,” Ma said. He was addressing a session to launch an initiative, ‘Enabling e-commerce’ to promote policies and practices for small businesses on the sidelines of the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The presence of the world’s leading e-commerce player at the WTO is significant as member countries are divided over the way the issue should be handled by the multilateral trade body. While some countries want to push e-commerce to the negotiating table, India and others maintain that binding rules would restrict the policy space to deal with the emerging sector, and favour the continuation of 1998 Work Programme with non-negotiating mandate. Ma said policies dealing with e-commerce should be improved and modernised as it is an important platform for small businesses. He said: “The problem with globalisation is that its benefits have not been made available to all. We cannot stop globalisation, we must improve it. “If businesses and government work together, we can create a more inclusive trade model to expand the benefits of globalisation to those who have been left behind.”
The Enabling e-commerce initiative, he added, envisions a world where small businesses, young people and developing countries can succeed in global marketplace. WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said that e-commerce can lift up small businesses around the world. “The vibrant debate on these issues has shown the desire of many WTO members to bridge the digital divide, and to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities of e-commerce,” said Azevedo.
The Enabling e-commerce is a joint initiative of the WTO, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP). Founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Ma had came out with the concept of eWTP to bring small and medium-sized enterprises more fully into the global economy.