Cambodia is looking to work with Alibaba Group to bring local products to markets in China and countries in Asia, Europe and Africa through the Lazada app, and increase exports by domestic small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME).

A video conference was held to this end on January 28 between Yim Chhay Ly, chairman of the National Committee for the Promotion of the One Village One Product (OVOP) Movement, and Alibaba representatives.

Song Juntao, chief of Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) project, shared that nearly 1,000 Malaysian and Thai businesses are members of the Alibaba digital ecosystem, which he said helps SMEs export to more than 200 countries.

Alibaba’s Southeast Asia arm Lazada serves 650 million customers in six countries – Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia, he said.

The eWTP project was established and launched in 2016, and has garnered the support of Group of 20 (G20) leaders, he said, adding that the platforms are recognised by the heads of state and government of the countries that work with Alibaba.

Song noted that eWTPs are multilateral public-private partnerships that aim to enhance online commerce.

He added that eWTPs work with local and international partners to build digital infrastructure networks – including global operations, transportation, finance, payments and public service platforms – to spur business, sustainable development and integration of green development.

“Currently, eWTPs have been implemented in six countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. In particular in Asia, there are Malaysia and Thailand. The eWTP vision is to help partner countries expand exports through cross-border e-commerce, with a focus on economic development and environmental conservation,” Song said.

Federation of Associations for Small and Medium Enterprise of Cambodia (FASMEC) president Te Taingpor told The Post on January 30 that he welcomed teamwork with Alibaba.

He said the collaboration would boost exports by Cambodian SMEs through online channels and greatly contribute to achieving the goals of Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, especially by promoting food processing.

He added that the policy puts a heavy stress on increasing production of processed products to generate more earnings and curb migration, as well as feed and otherwise help people across the country.

“We are happy to promote our SMEs’ products across the country through online sales channels,” Taingpor said.

He also suggested that it is high-time for China and South Korea to sign a memorandum of understanding on e-commerce-based exports, arguing that the number of Cambodian businesses selling online is significant.

However, even with the host of digital systems used in the Cambodian business ecosystem such as a much-acclaimed online registration portal, many SMEs lack a clear understanding of how they work or how they could be harnessed for success, he conceded.

Still, many SMEs are working to modernise, and FASMEC has trained a fair share of these smaller businesses, in the capital and all 24 provinces, on adopting and using the pertinent digital systems.