Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba inked an agreement with the government of Belgium to promote cross-border trade and confirmed plans to establish a smart logistics hub in the Belgian city of Liege.
The aim of the agreement is to enhance overall logistics efficiency for small to medium enterprises in the region and aid them in becoming more competitive amid a surge in global e-commerce.
In a statement, Alibaba CEO, Daniel Zhang, said the deal would open up “huge potential” for European companies to reap the benefits of cross-border trade, particularly in China where there’s high demand for European goods.
“With over 98% of European companies being small to medium businesses, this partnership signifies our initial and expanded effort to enhance inclusive trade opportunities for these business in Belgium and across Europe,” said Zhang.
Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao has promised €75 million ($85 million) in initial investment for the smart hub at Liege Airport, the first phase of which will begin operating in 2021. Reports of the Liege hub plan appeared in European media outlets last month.
Cainiao will lease a plot of land of total area of 220,000 square meters to house the logistics hub.
The move also highlights Alibaba Group’s resolve in helping import $200 billion worth of goods to China over the next five years, a plan it announced at the China International Import Expo, which took place in Shanghai last month.
Alibaba has signed similar agreements with the governments of Malaysia and Rwanda in the past to tap into developing markets.
In addition, the government of Belgium and Alibaba said they would work together to introduce new technologies for the digitization of customs procedures that promote efficient clearance of goods.