Chinese Internet giant Alibaba's chairman Jack Ma said here on Friday at the 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that the company is closely watching the development of Russia's small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In a speech, Ma said Russia is a country in transformation with a huge younger population and near complete mobile phone coverage, while its undeveloped business infrastructure and logistics provide development opportunities.
Ma said Russia can leap over the infrastructure problems that the United States has experienced, and make use of the latest technology.
In a joint interview with Chinese and Russian media, Ma said he has discussed supportive projects regarding Russian SMEs with officials at various levels, as "every one supports the idea of using the internet to connect small businesses and create more jobs."
At the Business 20 (B20) Forum held here Thursday, a warm-up of the upcoming G20 Summit to be held in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in September, Ma promoted the initiative of establishing a new global e-commerce platform, the Electronic World Trade Platform or e-WTP that connects global SMEs through logistics and inclusive financing.
Ma said AliExpress, the company's international e-commerce website, had 10 million Russian users last year, while the company is now working on enlarging its consumer map and building up a logistic and payment infrastructure.
"We had a good discussion yesterday with the Russian Export Center and we are going to set up a Russian pavilion on Alibaba.com and Tmall.com (Alibaba's e-commerce platforms). We are going to support lots of Russian businesses to sell their products to China," Ma added.
As Russia is experiencing economic pressure due to an oil price slump and Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis, the country is keen on reducing its economic reliance on the energy industry and diversifying its national economy by favoring the development of SMEs.
Alexander Braverman, head of Russia's Federal Corporation for Development of Small and Medium Enterprises said China, having been successful in creating low-cost, high-quality and high-tech production facilities, can share its experience with its Russian partners.