Remarks by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov at the webinar: "Digital solutions for entrepreneurs in the era of COVID-19: Key lessons from Alibaba" (May 28, 2020)

Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Mr. Brian Alan Wong!
Dear Mr. Karpenko,
Dear Mr. Tiesong Jia

First of all, let me welcome all the participants of the webinar and express my gratitude to the management of Alibaba Group, in particular to Mr. Brian Alan Wong, Vice President of the company, for his willingness and assistance in organizing this event.

The chosen theme of the webinar, dedicated to digital solutions for entrepreneurs in the era of COVID-19 pandemic — and key lessons from Alibaba is very relevant and timely.

Today, all our countries are facing the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has become a serious challenge for the entire world community, threatening the safety of life and health of people, as well as has had a negative impact on the socio-economic development of countries.

According to the report of the International Monetary Fund, the world economy will shrink by 6.3% by the end of this year.

According to the World Trade Organization, the decline in the volume of world trade this year could reach more than 30%.

In this challenging environment, governments have to make difficult choices between protecting and strengthening of public health and rebuilding their economies.

In this context, the SCO countries show a high level of solidarity and cooperation; contacts are maintained on a regular basis at the highest levels; cooperation is also carried out through ministries and departments, between medical professionals, scientists and specialized experts.

The Member States not only share their epidemiological and organizational experience, but also provide each other with financial, economic, food and humanitarian assistance.

I am confident that through joint efforts, the SCO countries will stand the test with dignity and overcome the situation with a stronger spirit.

However in the midst of the epidemic, we are seeing a clear increase in demand for digital services everywhere.

In many countries, for example, in China and other SCO Member States, information and communication technologies have become more actively introduced into the spheres of health, trade, education and finance.

Online sales of goods and services has begun to play a prominent role, becoming an important engine to assist people in times of isolation, due to introduction of quarantine everywhere.

E-commerce has contributed in the creation of new jobs that involve women, youth and vulnerable populations.

One of the successful companies in this industry is the internationally recognized Alibaba Group.

Thanks to innovative thinking and a visionary approach, the company has been able to quickly implement new technologies and modern solutions to prevent the spread of the virus, assist the public and protect medical personnel.

A special Fund of one billion yuan and an online platform for direct purchases of medicines on the global market, created by the company, allowed timely meeting the urgent demand in the regions most affected by the pandemic.

The Alibaba DAMO Academy has developed COVID-19 rapid diagnostic system using artificial intelligence.

Online consultations through the Alibaba Health app have helped millions of people, and the DingTalk program has enabled online learning in 140 thousand educational institutions for 120 million students.

In this time of Coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Jack Ma and Alibaba group provided humanitarian assistance to many countries around the world, including "SCO family".

In the context of the pandemic, the Alibaba Group also actively encouraged small and medium-sized enterprises to switch to the company's online platform at no cost and helped them not lose their business.

At the same time, the Alibaba Group has implemented a number of special measures to strengthen cross-border trade, making it easier for buyers and sellers to use digital infrastructure.

The company said that it will open resources of its Ali-Express, Lazada and Tmall World, which focus on overseas consumers to help small and medium-sized businesses expand their customer reach.

Thanks to the Alipay platform, since the beginning of the epidemic, more than one and a half million people have already got a job.

In particular, in the first few months of the epidemic alone Alipay launched 250 thousand mini-applications, providing 750 thousand jobs related to the development and management of mini-programs.

It is also worth mentioning that this company has created over 46 million jobs in recent years, and more than 110 million companies and entrepreneurs are involved in its platform. Alibaba Group plans to create 100 million more new jobs by 2036.

Under the leadership of the Vice President of Alibaba group, Mr. Brian Alan Wong, Alibaba Global Initiatives has issued a guide under the title: "Digital Solutions for Entrepreneurs in the COVID-19 Era: Key Lessons from Alibaba," which is an important source to learn from the company's experience in fighting the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic using digital technology, innovative solutions and mobile applications, and supporting small and medium businesses to withstand the crisis caused by COVID-19.

Small and medium-sized enterprises not only make significant contributions to the economy, but also create necessary jobs.

Therefore, it is necessary to support these enterprises to give them a chance of maintaining their business during the pandemic.

A sustainable private sector that is prepared in advance will ensure a faster recovery from the pandemic.

Thanks to the efforts of the SCO Youth Platform — SCOLAR Network, the handbook posted on the Alibaba Global Initiatives website was translated into Russian in the form of brochures and sent to all SCO countries.
These brochures in English and Russian will also be sent to all participants in the webinar.
Today Mr. Brian has kindly agreed to reveal the content of the enormous work that Alibaba groups have done in the context of the pandemic and will answer all questions from the participants of the webinar.

Dear participants of the webinar,

The pandemic has made it clear that digitalization and information and communications technology are essential for the continued functioning of the economy and society as a whole.

The modern world is on the verge of unprecedented, might say, revolutionary technological changes.

The second era of the digital revolution, connected with the synergy of artificial intelligence working on superfast 5G networks, big data, robotics, 3-D printing, the Internet of things, bio — and nanotechnology combines the digital economy with the real sphere of production.

The SCO region covering almost half of the world's population is a huge market for implementing joint innovative projects in IT and digital economy.

The SCO Secretariat strives to work closely with the Alibaba Group and other companies in the field of digital economy to help young people in the SCO countries, whose total number exceeds 800 million, to make extensive use of information and communication technologies, to develop digital entrepreneurship and electronic commerce.

On August 26 last year in Chongqing, during our meeting at the international exhibition "SMART CHINA EXPO — 2019" the founder of Alibaba Group, Mr. Jack Ma, supported the idea of developing mutually beneficial cooperation between the SCO Secretariat and the company in this field.

On December 14, 2019 the SCO Secretariat in cooperation with the SCO Youth Platform SCOLAR Network, in partnership with the Innoway Technology Park and with the assistance of the Director of the Department for international cooperation of Alibaba group, Ms. Laura, held a conference entitled "Digital Economy and E-Commerce: Challenges and Opportunities in the SCO Region", attended by over 200 young students of SCO countries studying in China.

On May 13 this year, with assistance of Ms. Li Ma, Vice President of Alibaba Group, Head of Alibaba Health Program, we jointly held an online training seminar for medical personnel of the SCO countries on countering the new coronavirus, which received a positive response.

Today, we organized a joint webinar to help business people and the young generation of the SCO countries to take advantage of existing opportunities and unlock their great potential to develop their digital businesses, and to assist their countries in strengthening public health and economic recovery.

The young generation is the most progressive and advanced part of any society, creators of new ideas.

Unfortunately, today more than 1.5 billion young people all over the world are in isolation under quarantine, and such events should help to direct them in a creative and constructive direction.

We must make efforts to ensure that every young person around the world has access to modern information technology in order to participate fully in the new digital future that is now emerging.

In this regard, the Spring thunder 2020 initiative, announced by the Chairman of the Alibaba Group, Mr. Daniel Zhang, deserves special attention and support.

The initiative aims to globally deploy the commercial potential and technologies that Alibaba has used over the past twenty years to create digital infrastructure, new supply chains, stimulate new demand, and promote new trade to help entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses win this "economic winter".

The success history of the creators of Alibaba proves that neither a modest childhood, nor the lack of connections and start-up capital can become an obstacle to achieving goals.

The success story of the company, its values and ideals have inspired many young people around the world who rely on their own strength.

We are glad that more than 400 young people from the SCO countries, as well as the ASEAN, Africa, Europe and America, have confirmed their participation in the webinar.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the leadership of the SCO Youth and Business Council for active participation in this event.

I wish everyone success and hope that our cooperation will continue.

I thank you for your attention.