Alibaba is investing €75 million at Liège airport to set up its first logistics centre in Europe, among other things to meet the demand of the Chinese middle classes for European products. The first freight planes took off from Hangzhou en route to Liège, on the eve of 11 November, the annual Singles Day created by Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.
This new logistics centre in Wallonia is expected to cover 220,000 m², but no precise date for the start of construction has been confirmed yet. Alibaba plans to create other logistics centres in Moscow, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur, in order to expand its logistics arm Cainiao. Ultimately, the Chinese group intends to be able to deliver anywhere in the world within 72 hours.
Christian Delcourt, spokesman for Liège airport, confirmed that the arrival of this new logistics centre could "create hundreds of jobs in the Liège region". For his part, Prime Minister Charles Michel believe that "this is a very strong signal because it shows that companies are putting Belgium on the digital map. This will have consequences for jobs and investment". Walloon Minister for the Economy Pierre-Yves Jeholet also highlighted the "enormous development potential of Liège airport, a major logistics hub at the European level". The Wallonia Export-Investment Agency (AWEX) played a key role as the lynchpin in this agreement, according to Michel Kempeneers, head of markets beyond Europe. Kempeneers added that "the investment by Cainiao/Alibaba in Wallonia strategically falls within a much larger project: the Electronic World Trade Platform project - eWTP".
Often referred to as the "Chinese Amazon", Alibaba is a global e-commerce giant. The Chinese conglomerate has one of the largest market capitalisations in the world. Alibaba is currently invested in a wide range of sectors, from airline tickets to the delivery of ready-made meals. The group recently achieved the largest daily sales figure in the history of e-commerce, on Sunday 11 November, the Alibaba Singles Day, which notched up record sales of $30 billion in 24 hours.