Alibaba, the Chinese-ecommerce giant, is stepping up its investments in Thailand as the competitive Thai e-commerce market is expected to further heat up in the coming years.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently met with Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and signed several agreements, including one that would set up a digital hub. The project is dubbed the Eastern Economic Corridor and will facilitate online trade between Asian countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and China. Reports indicate that the said project will also serve as a research and development center for the Chinese e-commerce giant.
There is no word yet on how much Alibaba is investing in Thai e-commerce. However, Thai media is reporting that Ma’s company will invest more than 10 billion Thai baht in the said project.
Thai e-commerce to become competitive
The Thai government is also expecting Alibaba not only to make the Thai e-commerce market more competitive, but also train their entrepreneurs and small merchants in the ins and outs of e-commerce as well as in setting up an online tourism platform.
Ma and Prayuth allayed fears that the growing involvement of Alibaba in the Thai e-commerce market will only increase Chinese influence in the country and not benefit Thailand.
In a news conference, Ma said Alibaba will not occupy Thailand nor take away jobs. He emphasized that the e-commerce giant is only interested in enabling entrepreneurs and e-commerce partners in the Asian country.
Expanding beyond Thai e-commerce
The move comes in the heels of Alibaba’s recent announcement that it was investing $2 billion in the Lazada Group, a regional online retailer. The Chinese firm had gained controlled of the said firm in 2016.
US e-commerce giant Amazon has also been making moves to expand operations in Southeast Asia, a region that’s rapidly growing in terms of purchasing power. Home to more than 600 million people, Southeast Asia has an expanding e-commerce sector as well.