WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, along with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, paid a visit to the Alibaba Business Park on Sept. 6 after the conclusion of the G20 summit. The two men had a chance to tour the park as well as to express their support for an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), proposed by Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
Jack Ma and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo
At the G20 summit and B20 business summit, leaders called for trade to remain the core of global economic development in the future. An official proposal for eWTP was included in the G20 Leaders' Communiqué.
In the afternoon of Sept. 6, Azevedo expressed his hope for "joint hands" to Jack Ma, Alibaba CEO and advocate for eWTP. Azevedo additionally reflected on how trade serves small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Ma's concept of eWTP is to set up a trade system for the Internet Era. According to Ma's proposal, eWTP will be initiated by privately owned sections with stakeholder participation. Ma's vision for eWTP is to improve policies and business climate for cross-border commerce. This would help developing countries, SMEs and young people to enter the global market and join the global economy.
Azevedo expressed his perspective that WTO and eWTP share a common mission. Ma agreed that, although they have differences, the ultimate goal of both is to promote development and inclusive growth. Ma therefore believes WTO and eWTP should work together toward their shared goal.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull experiences a "smart home"
In addition to Azevedo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also visited Alibaba Business Park. He negotiated with Ma and experienced a "smart home" during his visit. He also witnessed the strategic cooperation agreement signed by Alibaba and the Australia Trade and Investment Commission.
Turnbull said that Alibaba and its online platform are an accessible pathway to the global market for many SMEs, emphasizing that eWTP will make global economic growth far more dynamic. Ma stated that the Internet is the best and only way for SMEs and young people to gain access to cross-border commerce.
During their conversation, Ma said that he had a pen pal, David Morley, who traveled with his family from Australia to Hangzhou when he was a child. Ma was also invited to Australia, where he finally got to go after being denied a visa six times.