World’s first DFTZ for SMEs, Malaysia walks the talk

Nov 4, 2017

SEPANG: Malaysia is walking the talk of empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the launch of world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) dedicated to the sector — the backbone of the country’s economy.

Alibaba Group Founder Jack Ma acknowledged Malaysia for its effort.

“I love to say that, so many countries talked about what they want to do for small businesses.

“And Malaysia is the country and government that makes the first real action to make things happen,” said Ma, who together with Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak officiated the groundbreaking ceremony of the KLIA Aeropolis DFTZ Park.

Ma is as an adviser to the Malaysian government on digital economy.

A total of 1,972 export-ready SMEs were flagged off onboard the DFTZ.

One of them is MF Borthers Sdn Bhd, which sells Batik and related products under the brand name, Calice.

Its Chief Executive Officer, Faiz Fathil said he wasted no time when he came to know about the DFTZ.

“We approached Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and they helped us to get on board,” said the 34-year-old entrepreneur.

He said SMEs often face problem when it comes to getting fast clearance from the Malaysian Royal Customs Department.

“(But) with DFTZ, this is being solved. It helps us settle the documentation and assist us for a faster shipment,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the DFTZ groundbreaking ceremony.

The DFTZ would, among others, optimise border clearance and handling to three hours from six hours, at present, with improved cargo terminal operations from four hours to 90 minutes.

As part of its involvement in the DFTZ, Alibaba also provides classes for entrepreneurs, where “we learn how to fully exploit the digital economy, while MDEC monitors and helps us with the process.”

The DFTZ is Alibaba’s first regional eFulfilment hub outside China. It will serve as cluster of facilities for Customs clearance, warrehousing and logistics.

“Once we’ve joined DFTZ, we’ve got the chance to put up our products on Alibaba Group website which has a worldwide presence. Now we’ve received orders from the United States, Amsterdam and China,” said an elated Faiz.

He called on other SMEs to jump on the bandwagon and reap the benefit from a platform that the government has provided.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the DFTZ would increase the SME goods export to US$38 billion, create over 60,000 jobs and support US$65 billion worth of goods moving through the DFTZ by 2025.

Malaysia’s SMEs and for the first time ever receive a big boost of RM23.7 billion in terms of government allocation, grants, soft loans and guarantees in the recently tabled 2018 Budget and allocation of RM83.5 million for the first phase of the DFTZ.

Ma said with such committment, the DFTZ is nothing but a leading model for other countries to emulate.

He also said he was amazed by Najib’s leadership, vision and determination, especially in realising the DFTZ.

Ma said many countries were only talking about how to do something for small businesses ,but Malaysia and its government were the ones that made it happen. –Bernama