Pakistan on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alibaba Group Holdings Limited to promote Pakistan's worldwide exports by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through e-commerce.
Alibaba Group's Executive Chairman, Jack Ma and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif witnessed the signing ceremony.
Speaking at the headquarters of the e-commerce giant, the prime minister appreciated the success and performance of the Alibaba group.
"I am glad my meeting with Jack Ma at the World Economic Forum in January has come to fruition in the shape of the MoU we have just signed," the premier said.
"My appreciation of Ma's dynamism and performance of [the Alibaba] group comes not only from its success as a e-commerce giant but more so from the focus of the group on job creation and livelihood generation," he added.
"Indeed, the Alibaba group is a business with strong humanistic dimension. These are the values that are the pivot of the policies my government has pursued with determination and commitment since taking office in 2013."
"E-commerce is a powerful tool to stimulate economic activity, effort, innovation and entrepreneurship across all sectors of the economy," the prime minister added.
"When Jack Ma shared with me his interest in establishing an e-platform in Pakistan, i instructed my office to facilitate Alibaba's initiative in every manner and in the shortest possilbe time frame," he the prime minister said, adding that the MoU had been signed within four months of when the initiative was first conceived.
The agreement between Alibaba and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) was signed by Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir and Michael Evans, President of Alibaba Group, and Douglas Feagin, Senior Vice President of Global Business of Ant Financial, on behalf of Alibaba, during the visit of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to the headquarters of the company.
Under the terms of the MoU, Alibaba, Ant Financial, and TDAP agreed to foster growth of worldwide exports of products by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Pakistan through e-commerce.
Online and offline training programs for the SMEs would also be conducted by Alibaba in a bid to assist SMEs with on-boarding on to Alibaba's platforms and optimizing exports through e-commerce.
TDAP will help identify suitable SMEs to participate in the training programs while Alibaba will be responsible for providing industry analysis to TDAP to assist them in their selection process.
In addition, Alibaba, Ant Financial and TDAP have agreed to promote the growth of financial services in Pakistan in areas such as mobile and online payment services.
The parties have also agreed to adopt cloud computing services to support the online and mobile e-commerce businesses of SMEs in Pakistan.
The Alibaba group has in recent years been aggressively courting foreign brands to set up Tmall stores to sell to China's vast and growing middle class by offering to smoothen out Chinese sales, payment and shipping processes.
Ma, a Chinese citizen, appears frequently with leaders from the highest echelons of the Communist Party, and both sides have voiced their support and admiration for each other.
Alibaba has deep ties with the Chinese government, working closely on some of the country's core technology development goals including cloud infrastructure and big data.
Ma is a true rags-to-riches story. He grew up poor in communist China, failed his university-entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs, including one at KFC, before finding success with his third internet company, Alibaba.
Alibaba not interested in acquisitions, more interested in partnerships
China's Alibaba is not interested in acquisitions this year as it is in partnerships, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma said on Thursday.
"I am not interested in acquisitions. I am more interested in partnerships," Ma said at a news conference on Alibaba's Olympic sponsorship deal, when he asked about his company's plans for the year. "We want to look for partners and empower them to be powerful," he said.