Jack Ma has appealed to the G20 to create a digital ‘Silk Road’ trade route between Asia and Europe to speed the passage of goods and cut red tape. This would allow small Chinese retailers to more easily sell to the West and potentially for European retailers to sell to China.
The argument goes that SME retailers make a massive contribution to the economy of most countries as well as providing employment but the regulations and market entry regimes make it difficult almost impossible for small retailers to enter new markets. Only large businesses have the resources to do so.
Jack proposes a new Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), an Internet based organisation driven by small businesses as a successor to the World Trade Organization. He wants to create a global online trading platform with virtual free trade zones for small businesses. These zones would allow small businesses in one country to sell to consumers in another, without anyone having to pay import duties and with speedy customs clearance.
Speaking in St Petersburg, it’s no accident that Jack proposed Russia to be the stepping stone between China and Europe as the host country for a hub which all goods would flow through.
I do like the suggestion of a world wide trading agreement where small businesses could trade cross border free from customs requirements and import duties and tariffs. I do however wonder if Jack Ma is more interested in getting the free flow of goods from China to the Europe rather than the other way around.