Chinese online retailer Alibaba has signed an agreement with Belgium to launch an e-commerce hub as part of a plan to help companies in the country export abroad especially into the Chinese market.
The company said today it has signed a deal with the Belgium government, which will include investments in logistics infrastructure.
The project is part of Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), and Belgium is the first European country to join the project. This is aimed at helping countries reduce trade barriers for e-commerce trade such as lowering tariffs and speeding up Customs clearance.
Alibaba’s logistics arm, Cainiao Smart Logistics, will lease a 220,000 square metre warehouse Belgium’s Liege Airport as part of the deal and said it will help businesses in Europe transport goods to China. It will invest an initial €75 million euros in the project set to begin operations in 2021.
Alibaba chief executive officer, Daniel Zhang said in a statement: “We strongly believe that under the eWTP, we will open up the huge potential for European businesses to reap the benefits of global cross-border trade, especially into the China market.”
In May, Alibaba revealed it had chosen five cities to become its global e-commerce hubs – Hangzhou, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Liege and Moscow.
The move it said was part of plans by Alibaba and Cainiao to spend more than 100 billion yuan ($15.6 billion) to build out a national ‘smart logistics network’, as it embarks on an aggressive logistics expansion in China and abroad.