Alibaba chooses Belgium for e-commerce trade hub


Belgium will be the first European country to become part of e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP). According to an announcement on 5 December 2018, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has signed an agreement with the Belgian government to launch an e-commerce trade hub close to Liege. Similar agreements have already been signed in Malaysia and Rwanda.

The deal with Alibaba’s logistics company, Cainiao, initially amounts to €75 million and includes the lease of a 220,000mlogistics port at Belgium’s Liege airport as well as investment in logistics infrastructure. The project is scheduled to begin operations in 2021.

Alibaba’s CEO Daniel Zhang is quoted as saying: “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.”

Trade war

Alibaba’s eWTP is designed to help countries reduce trade barriers for e-commerce trade, including lowering or eliminating tariffs and speeding up customs clearance. Alibaba’s expansion into Europe comes against the backdrop of an ongoing trade war between China and the USA which has forced the company to shift its focus away from US-based sellers. In September, Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma said in an interview with Chinese news outlet Xinhua that the rising trade tensions meant his company could no longer fulfil its earlier promise to create a million new jobs in the USA.