Alibaba signs MoU with CII to connect Indian, Chinese markets for SMEs

Global marketplace Alibaba.com has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to connect small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India and China, so as to facilitate greater economic engagement between them.

The MoU is intended to provide a common platform for SMEs of the two countries, enabling the two sides to discover more trade opportunities and thereby develop strong relationship while enjoying online promotions.

The MoU was signed at CII's China office in Shanghai on Friday.

''India is one of the key markets for Alibaba.com. We are confident that the CII and Alibaba.com partnership will support greater business engagement between Indian SMEs and the rest of the world,'' Timothy Leung, head of Global Business Development for Alibaba, said.

''The agreement between Alibaba.com and CII is a step forward in forging greater partnerships, engagement between Indian and global business,'' Madhav Sharma, chief representative of CII in Shanghai, said.

The MoU is part of Alibaba's expansion plans in India, which has already invested $575 million in Paytm, a digital wallet and ecommerce platform. Rumours about a possible partnership with Snapdeal are also doing the rounds.

The MoU provides for certified training and skills development to Indian SMEs, to be conducted by specialists from Alibaba and transfer of technical knowledge and expansion of knowledge in the coming days.

The MoU is expected to give a boost to strategic partnerships, joint ventures and joint research between two countries.

CII expects the MoU to provide a big opportunity to the 8,000-odd SMEs in India to expand their businesses across the globe while also helping Alibaba to connect with Indian SMEs via 64 offices of CII spread all over the country, and to interact with 100,000 indirect members of CII, specialising in various trades.

The growth in e-commerce has helped SMEs with more and more e-commerce portals looking to them for product sourcing. The government has also been providing sops to SMEs and had also set up of a separate e-commerce platform for SMEs in July last year.

Flipkart has committed to bring 50,000 SMEs online, with a special MoU with FISME and NCDPD while Amazon is trying to lure SMEs into their platform with their new B2B venture.

Alibaba, meanwhile, is looking to grow bigger than Walmart, and its CEO Jack Ma is reported to have told Bloomberg TV's Charlie Rose at Davos that a Walmart executive in China had visited him and that he has made a bet with the Walmart official that Alibaba would outgrow the US retail giant.