Global e-commerce giant Alibaba is keen to sell more Bangladesh goods, produced by local small and medium enterprises, to its global customers.
To make this happen, the China-headquartered company proposed setting up a separate pavilion for Bangladeshi goods on its widely popular website – www.alibaba.com.
The leading e-commerce company, founded by Jack Ma and his friends back in 1999, expressed this interest in a letter to the Bangladesh Embassy in China on 10 May and sought cooperation to this end. In an April meeting with embassy officials, the company discussed the issue.
Afterwards, Bangladesh Commercial Counsellor in China, Mohammad Monsour Uddin, informed the commerce ministry of the matter recently.
"In collaboration with local partners like Tradeshi Limited, we have paved export opportunities for local SMEs in Bangladesh and helped them mobilise their exports," Alibaba said in its 10 May letter.
To further promote Bangladeshi goods, the company wants to connect with different government departments such as the Export Promotion Bureau and other trade agencies.
It also wishes to connect with local e-commerce associations such as e-CAB and find B2B cross-border business entities as authorised partners to provide services in the country.
Alibaba said it would support local SMEs in finding new business opportunities around the globe and help enable foreign buyers to source from Bangladesh.
Currently, the e-commerce company has some 100 suppliers from Bangladesh selling goods on its website. Although it is still at an early stage, there is great potential, Alibaba added.
"Bangladeshi goods sales by Alibaba in global markets is still less than 1% of what [foreign goods] it is selling to Bangladesh," said AKM Fahim Mashroor, former president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services.
"This is good news that Alibaba has shown interest in promoting Bangladeshi products to global customers. I think it can help our SMEs grow further but the government should be careful in dealing with the matter," he told The Business Standard.
Fahim Mashroor added that Alibaba created a market for Chinese products in many countries but did little for those countries. "In Bangladesh, a huge amount of Chinese products are being sold by Alibaba platforms [Daraz and AliExpress], which has destroyed the businesses of many local manufacturers."
So, the government must be very careful in partnering with a company that mostly markets Chinese goods, he said.