E-COMMERCE giant Alibaba’s logistics affiliate Cainiao Network is to develop a smart hub at Liege Airport in Belgium.

It has signed a contract to lease 220,000 square meters and will build a warehouse, with an initial investment of 75 million euros (US$85 million).

The decision comes after the Belgium government and Alibaba signed a memorandum of understanding under the Chinese company’s Electronic World Trade Platform initiative. It is the first such deal with a European country to promote inclusive global trade.

“This will be a huge opportunity to boost exports and bring wide-ranging economic benefits to society, including employment opportunities to Liege,” said Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel. Similar eWTP tie-ups have been established between Alibaba and Malaysia and Rwanda after chairman Jack Ma put forward the initiative two years ago to encourage global trade.

Alibaba Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang added: “With over 98 percent of European companies being small to medium businesses, this partnership signifies our efforts to enhance inclusive trade opportunities for businesses in Belgium and across Europe.”

The two parties will also promote digitalization of customs procedures and more efficient clearance of goods.

Cainiao is also part of a joint venture to build a US$1.5 billion logistics center at Hong Kong International Airport as a part of a broader plan for Alibaba to help import US$200 billion worth of goods over the next five years.



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