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Ethiopia Gets Boost From Alibaba to Advance Trade Plans

The government of Ethiopia and Alibaba Group have signed agreements to establish the eWTP Ethiopia Hub to promote inclusive global trade, regional commerce and capacity building.

The eWTP (electronic world trade platform) Hub is meant to foster cross-border trade, provide smart logistics and fulfillment services, assist Ethiopian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reach China and other markets, and provide talent training.

Ethiopia, which has been building up apparel manufacturing capability, largely with foreign investment, now aims to build a dynamic and growing digital economy that contributes significantly to overall economic growth in the country.

The eWTP Hub is an Alibaba-led multi-stakeholder global initiative promoting public-private dialogue to support more inclusive global trade that uses technology and policy innovation to provide greater opportunities for SMEs, women and youth. Ethiopia is the second country in Africa after Rwanda to establish an eWTP Hub, and this new partnership builds upon the success of other eWTP partnerships in China, Malaysia and Belgium over the past two years.

“Today’s signing of the Ethiopia eWTP Hub is an important step in the development of a digital economy in Ethiopia,” Getahun Mekuria, Ethiopia’s minister for innovation and technology, said. “This engagement will greatly contribute to trade facilitation and open markets to SMEs not only in Ethiopia, but in the wider region.”

U.S. apparel imports from Ethiopia nearly doubled in the 12 months through September to a value of $182.88 million. Last year, PVH Corp. received a U.S. Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence for Sustainable Operations as lead investor of a best-in-class apparel manufacturing facility in the Hawassa Industrial Park. The project is part of an effort to make Ethiopia the leading garment manufacturing hub in the African continent.

The first major initiative for the eWTP partnership in Ethiopia will be the development of a multi-function digital trade hub to serve as a gateway for Ethiopian products to China, a center for cross-border e-commerce and trade within Africa, and a training center. China Commodities City International (CCCI) will partner with Alibaba in the development of the eWTP Hub. The Alibaba Business School will implement the capacity building and training portion of the partnership which consists of a number of programs, including specialized programs for Ethiopian entrepreneurs, business leaders and university lecturers.

Eric Jing, Alibaba group director and Ant Financial Services Group chairman and CEO, said, “We will continue to support the creation of a more inclusive, digitally-enabled global economy, where small businesses can participate in global trade. We look forward to working together with entrepreneurs and SMEs from Ethiopia and other African nations to seize the opportunities provided by the digital era.”

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