Alibaba is getting down to work in Southeast Asia as it bids to lead the region’s promising e-commerce space and maximize its early mover advantage over Amazon.

Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma has spent the past year hobnobbing with a range of heads of state across the region’s key countries, including Australia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This week, Ma’s dabbling in politics bore its first fruit as Malaysia’s government partnered with his e-commerce firm — and its affiliates Cainiao (logistics), Ant Financial (fintech) and Lazadato launch a series of initiatives aimed at easing red tape and barriers around cross-border e-commerce in the country. (Malaysia’s government appointed Ma as an economic advisor last November.)

Alibaba stressed that the planned e-fulfillment hub, a physical location to handle inbound and outbound deliveries, and other aspects of the initiative — which it calls eWTP or Electronic World Trade Platform — will benefit anyone who sells online in Malaysia, not just Alibaba. Malaysia’s zone will be linked to an existing zone in Hangzhou, Alibaba’s homestead, to enable freer exchange of goods between Malaysia and China and open up economic and social opportunities, Alibaba said.

But the firm’s central involvement — it may also invest in a financial capacity — is proof that the project is very much strategic to Alibaba’s aim of connecting Southeast Asia with China.

Source: Tech Crunch

Editorial Comment:  Jack Ma had high level government meetings in Thailand and Australia last year and he is making acquisitions in India.