Key initiatives include Smart Digital Hub in the EEC, training of digital talent and SMEs, smart tourism and Thai agricultural exports to China.
BANGKOK - Reently, at a ceremony witnessed by the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, His Excellency Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak, China's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Thailand, Lyu Jian, and the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, the Government of Thailand and Alibaba entered into a strategic partnership to drive the development of Thailand's digital economy and the Eastern Economic Corridor under the Thailand 4.0 policy. Under this partnership, agencies of the Thai government and business units of Alibaba will work closely together in a number of areas, including e-commerce, digital logistics, tourism and training.
The partnership represents the strengthening of collaboration between Alibaba Group and the Thai Government following the signing of a Letter of Intent in 2016 -- a move that kick-started a number of joint efforts to bolster the capacity of Thai entrepreneurs in gaining access to new markets and taking advantage of digital innovations.
"Confident in the promising outlook of the Thai economy, the Thailand 4.0 policy initiative, and the high potential of the EEC development, Alibaba has decided to invest in a Smart Digital Hub in the EEC area. The Smart Digital Hub will be an important platform to link Thai SME and OTOP (One Tambon One Product) products and agricultural products to, not only China but also global markets. The strategic cooperation with Alibaba will bring benefits to Thai SMEs and farmers as well as tourism industry, while pushing forward digital economic development in Thailand," said Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak.
"China is on its way to becoming the world's largest consumer, driven by rising income and a growing middle class of 300 million. There is no better time than now for trade-oriented countries to seize this opportunity to export to China as the country continues to open its doors wider for global trade. Quality Thai agricultural products such as fragrant rice, durian and other tropical fruits in particular are sought after by the Chinese consumer," said Jack Ma, Executive Chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group. "Given Thailand's unique strengths in people and culture, we are confident of its future and growth potential under the government's Thailand 4.0 policy. We are committed to being a long term partner of Thailand to help enable its digital transformation."
Among the numerous areas of cooperation announced today are:
Establishment of a Smart Digital Hub in the EEC to Support Cross-Border Trade with China and Other Markets
As part of Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor ("EEC") initiative covering the three eastern provinces of Chachoengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong, Alibaba's smart digital logistics business, Cainiao Network, will establish a Smart Digital Hub in the EEC. The Smart Digital Hub will utilize Alibaba and Cainiao's world-class data and logistics technologies and processes to optimize the cross-border flow of goods not only between Thailand and China but also with other markets. Cainiao will also work closely with the EEC Office and Thai Customs to promote the digitization of customs processes through technology such as big data and artificial intelligence and sharing of global best practices. The Smart Digital Hub will be an open platform enabled to provide services to all players in Thailand's digital economy.
Groundbreaking for the Smart Digital Hub is expected in 2018, and operations are expected to commence in 2019.
Equip SMEs with E-Commerce Skills
Alibaba Group is also set to continue its efforts to connect Thai SMEs to Alibaba's 500 million active users in the Chinese e-commerce market as well as other global e-commerce opportunities through a partnership between the Thai Ministry of Industry's Department of Industrial Promotion ("DIP"), the Thai Ministry of Commerce's Department of International Trade Promotion ("DITP") and Alibaba Business School -- an accredited university founded by Alibaba Group and Hangzhou Normal University. Under this training collaboration, SMEs all across Thailand including SMEs in rural areas and individual entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to gain e-commerce knowledge and skills to start e-business and leverage the internet to develop their business online.
Training of Thai Digital Talent
Under the collaboration with DIP and DITP, Alibaba Group also plans to develop Thai talent for the digital economy era. Alibaba Business School will work together with both departments to develop and update effective strategies for talent development in Thailand, while also providing students and academics from Thailand with opportunities to take part in various academic exchanges and courses offered by Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou, China. Alibaba Business School resources and expertise will also be made available to the DIP and DITP for localization and further use in Thailand.
Establishment of an Official Thai Rice Flagship Store on Tmall
At today's ceremony, Alibaba and the Thai Ministry of Commerce ("MOC") launched the first official Thai rice flagship store on Tmall, the world's largest third-party platform for brands and retailers. In addition, Alibaba also will help drive the sale of popular Thai fruits such as durian into China. Alibaba and the MOC will work together to drive the growth of Thai rice and agricultural product exports, as an area of strength in the Thai economy and strong global position. Alibaba will also assist Thai agriculture businesses to harness the power of Alibaba's unique and unparalleled insights into the Chinese consumer market.
Cooperation in Smart and Digital Tourism
The Tourism Authority of Thailand ("TAT") and Alibaba's online travel business and one of China's leading online travel service providers, Fliggy, will also expand their cooperation to support smart and digital tourism in Thailand.
As an Official Strategic Partner of TAT, Fliggy will work with TAT to offer smart technological experiences at many facilities and tourist attractions across Thailand for the convenience of visitors -- ranging from online tour guides to electronic ticketing systems. Both sides will join forces in shining the spotlight on Thailand's best and brightest 'hidden gem' tourist attractions that are off the beaten track for Chinese visitors. In addition, both Fliggy and Ant Financial, Alibaba Group's affiliate and operator of Alipay, are in active discussions with various related government agencies to drive a holistic digital transformation to Thai tourism starting from pre-departure visa and visa-on-arrival application and payment to post-travel digital service with tourist tax refund via Alipay system. The strong collaboration between Alibaba Group and Thai government is expected to help attract more Chinese travelers to Thailand and increase Thailand's tourism income.