Alibaba’s presence in Liège Airport will allow Belgian businesses to export more easily to China, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister said she was very satisfied after a "very interesting" discussion in Davos, with the Alibaba Group CEO, Daniel Zhang, who laid out the advantages for Belgium of the installation of his Chinese e-trade giant in Liège.
The Chinese group’s complex at the Belgian airport is due to be operational by mid-2021, but its presence in Belgium has raised not a few hackles. Some fear a massive influx of Chinese goods, while climate campaigners have been denouncing an expected increase not only in air traffic but also road transport, as thousands of trucks are expected to be involved in distributing packages of goods made in China throughout Europe.
However, Wilmès highlighted the benefits the Chinese giant is expected to bring in. “It’s not just about the establishment of a logistics centre but also a partnership to create an entire local economy, in Liège, but also elsewhere in Belgium,” the Prime Minister said.
“Alibaba’s arrival is creating direct and indirect jobs, but in both directions," she explained. “It will allow SMEs to export to China, a market that is not easy to break into, and that’s the most interesting thing for us now.”
For Wilmès, Alibaba represents opportunities at a time when Belgium’s economic growth has slowed down. “We need to identify local, Belgian, business and put it in contact with Alibaba to facilitate exports to China,” she noted.
“We need to be facilitators because when a region wins, the whole of Belgium wins,” she added.
The Brussels Times