By Asina Pornwasin
Under this partnership, agencies of the Thai government and business units of Alibaba will work closely in a number of areas, including e-commerce, digital logistics, tourism and training.
The partnership represents the strengthening of collaboration between the Alibaba Group and the Thai government following the signing of a letter of intent in 2016, a move that kick-started a series of joint efforts to bolster the capacity of Thai entrepreneurs in gaining access to new markets and taking advantage of digital innovations.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said that the strategic cooperation with Alibaba would bring benefits to Thai small and medium enterprises and farmers as well as to the tourism industry, while pushing forward digital economic development in Thailand.
Jack Ma, executive chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group, said that China is on its way to becoming the world’s largest consumer market, driven by rising income and a growing middle class that now numbers 300 million.
There is no better time than now for trade-oriented countries to seize the opportunity to export to China, as the country continues to open its doors wider to global trade, Ma said. Quality Thai agricultural products such as fragrant rice, durian and other tropical fruit are particularly sought after by the Chinese consumer.
First, establishment of a Smart Digital Hub in the Easter Economic Corridor (EEC) to support cross-border trade with China and other markets.
Alibaba’s smart digital logistics business, Cainiao Network, will establish a Smart Digital Hub in the EEC. The hub will utilise Alibaba and Cainiao’s data and logistics technologies and processes to optimise the cross-border flow of goods between Thailand and China, as well as with other markets. Cainiao will also work closely with the EEC Office and Thailand Customs to promote the digitisation of customs processes through technologies such as “big data” and artificial intelligence, as well as sharing global best practices. The Smart Digital Hub will be an open platform enabled to provide services to all players in Thailand’s digital economy.
The Smart Digital Hub is expected to be built starting this year, with operations expected to commence in 2019.
Second, equipping SMEs with e-commerce skills.
Alibaba Group said it would continue its efforts to connect Thai SMEs to Alibaba’s 500 million active users in the Chinese e-commerce market. Other global e-commerce opportunities will roll out through a partnership between the Thai Ministry of Industry’s Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP), the Thai Commerce Ministry’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) and the Alibaba Business School – an accredited university founded by Alibaba Group and Hangzhou Normal University.
Under this training collaboration, SMEs across Thailand, including SMEs in rural areas and individual entrepreneurs, would have the opportunity to gain e-commerce knowledge and skills to start e-businesses and leverage the Internet to develop their business online.
Third, training Thai digital talent.
Under the collaboration with DIP and DITP, the Alibaba Group also plans to develop Thai talent for the digital-economy era.
The Alibaba Business School would work with both government departments to develop and update effective strategies for talent development in Thailand, while also providing students and academics from this country with opportunities to take part in various academic exchanges and courses offered by the business school in Hangzhou, China. Resources and expertise from the Alibaba Business School would also be made available to the DIP and DITP for localisation and further use in Thailand.
Fourth, cooperating in developing “smart” and digital tourism.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand will expand cooperation with Alibaba’s online travel business, Fliggy, which is one of China’s leading online travel service providers.
The cooperation will focus on support for smart and digital tourism in Thailand.
As an official strategic partner of TAT, Fliggy will work with the body to offer smart technological experiences at multiple facilities and tourist attractions across Thailand for the convenience of visitors – ranging from online tour guides to electronic ticketing systems.
Fliggy and Ant Financial, Alibaba Group’s affiliate and operator of Alipay, are also in active discussions with various related government agencies to drive a digital transformation of Thai tourism. The holistic change would start from applications for pre-departure visas and “visas on arrival”, through to payment of post-travel digital services and the tourist tax refund via the Alipay system. It is expected that the strong collaboration between Alibaba Group and Thai government will help attract more Chinese travellers to Thailand and increase the nation’s tourism income.
Fifth, creating an official Thai rice flagship store on Tmall.
Alibaba and the Thai Commerce Ministry have together launched the first official Thai rice flagship store on Tmall, the world’s largest third-party platform for brands and retailers.
Alibaba will also help drive the sale of popular Thai fruit, such as durian, into China. Alibaba and the ministry will work together to drive the growth of Thai rice and other agricultural product exports to build an area of strength in the Thai economy and position Thailand globally. Alibaba will also assist Thai agricultural businesses to harness the power of Alibaba’s unique insights into the Chinese consumer market.