Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, has agreed for more investments in Thailand as there is consistent increase in competition among retailers in the Southeast Asian market. Jack Ma, founder of the online shopping giant, had a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, where he later signed multiple agreements. Of these agreements, one was specifically for setting up a “smart digital hub” in a project called Eastern Economic Corridor. This corridor will facilitate trade between Thailand, China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Both Ma and Prayuth have entered into an agreement to ease growing concerns that Alibaba’s influence was not benefiting Thailand. These concerns were rampant across the region, as Beijing was expanding its investments in multiple projects that were helping t0 develope transportation and supply chain connections to China.
Addressing a news conference, Ma stated, “We are not interested in taking away jobs. We are interested in, and focusing on, enabling entrepreneurs and partners in Thailand.”
Speaking on this development, Prime Minister Prayuth said that the amount of investment was not yet decided. However, sources have indicated that the amount could be around 11 billion Thai baht, approximately $350 million.
Sources have also indicated that the hub, which will be completed next year, will also serve as a research and development center for Alibaba.
Prayuth has asked Jack Ma to help Thailand by boosting exports of rice, palm oil, and rubber. This will help the country’s low income as well as the farming community. Prayuth further added, “Therefore, this is beneficial to Thailand. Don’t think of this as being disadvantageous for Thailand.” Ma stated that he will develop logistic systems to speed up the delivery of farm products. Alibaba will also help the small business community and other Thai entrepreneurs in the field of e-commerce and set up an online tourism platform.