Alibaba’s Jack Ma promotes free trade for SMEs at G20


Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma’s work as a promoter of easier access to world markets for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) was recognized at the G20 summit. The G20 Leaders Communique released on Monday welcomed the recommendation of business leaders under Business 20 (B20) to strengthen digital trade and took note of its initiative on an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), a concept for a more inclusive way for nations to implement free and fair trade for their SME constituents.

Ma was the chairman of the B20 SME Development Taskforce. The SME Development Taskforce, which had 107 members from international business, issued recommendations for SME development to the G20, including support for eWTP.

On the heels of the closing of the G20 Summit, World Trade Organization director General Roberto Azevêdo met with Ma at Alibaba’s headquarters. Azevêdo and Ma discussed Azevêdo’s vision for a more inclusive WTO and how they can work together to deliver it.

The enablement of global trade is the common objective of both the WTO and eWTP. With a focus on SMEs, eWTP speaks to a shared vision of a future WTO that enables more inclusive trade and ensures small businesses can participate in the digital era. By promoting public-private dialogue to incubate e-trade rules and foster a more effective and efficient policy and business environment, SMEs can further expand their capabilities and reach worldwide.

Speaking to the press after the WTO meeting, Ma said: “The G20 leaders have acknowledged the importance of freer, more inclusive and innovation-driven trade to extend the benefits of globalization to those that have been left behind in the current model. The eWTP will benefit small and medium-sized businesses and consumers. It is about the people, not big business.”

Azevêdo said: “Trade has been at the top of the agenda here in Hangzhou – at both the G20 and B20 summits – with leaders calling for trade to be at the heart of efforts towards global growth. As part of this, we must trade more inclusively–allowing everyone to take part and feel the benefits. That means trade must work for SMEs.”

“One vital element will be to ensure that SMEs can access online commercial platforms. That’s why the discussion on digital trade is so important, including the proposal for an Electronic World Trade Platform–or eWTP. This idea, in which Alibaba has played an important role, was one of the key recommendations adopted by the B20 and noted in the G20 leaders communique. I welcome Jack Ma’s leadership on this front, ” said Azevêdo.

“Making progress here will require a global approach–and therefore the WTO, which sets global trade rules, is looking at how to take work on e-commerce forward, including for the benefit of SMEs and development. I look forward to working with Jack in that effort,” said Azevêdo.

The G20 was also occasion for representative trade and commercial organizations in many countries to sign agreements and discuss cooperation with Alibaba in the areas of access to the Chinese consumer market, travel and tourism, and investment, including organizations from Australia, Canada, Italy and Russia.