G20 Summit is a new opportunity for Hangzhou


Traditionally overshadowed by metropolises such as Shanghai and Beijing in China’s international events, Zhejiang Province’s capital city of Hangzhou was in the global spotlight when it hosted the recent G20 Summit in September. Hangzhou made considerable press for the Chinese government’s intense efforts to beautify the city and ease congestion for its international guests, including by shutting down polluting factories, shipping away migrant workers, giving citizens vouchers to encourage them to go on vacation, and spending over US$1 billion on a new convention center. Despite these vast efforts, Hangzhou’s allure is not simply cosmetic. While China’s growth is slowing as its immense manufacturing sector struggles, Hangzhou continues to grow steadily on the back of its burgeoning high-tech industry, making it a model city for China’s broader economic transition.
Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma is urging G20 nations to set up digital free trade zones that would enable small businesses worldwide to bypass complex regulations and protectionist trade policies that hinder global commerce. Ma wants to create a global online trading platform replete with virtual free trade zones for small businesses. These zones would allow small businesses in one country to sell to consumers in another, without anyone having to pay import duties and with speedy customs clearance. “Imagine if SMEs could buy and sell products anywhere in the world with mobile phones and PCs,” he said.
“We should build special rules and laws to help small guys move forward,” Ma explained. “Trains have stations, airplanes have airports, boats have docks,” he said. “We need global free trade zones for small businesses, or e-hubs,” Ma said, adding that Russia would be a logical host for a hub connecting Asia and Europe.
“We recommend G20 countries to support the Electronic World Trade Platform, which should help to support a new and more open way for global trade,” added Ma, who is the chairman of the G20 SME Development Task Force, a G20 advisory group.
During the forum, Ma spoke on a range of topics, among them ways to address the problem of a vanishing middle class around the world, and how G20 countries ought to create a new type of visa to allow entrepreneurs to travel more freely.

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