Alibaba Group on Thursday expanded its partnership with Yiwu, a city in China’s Zhejiang province that is home to the world’s largest wholesale market, with plans to digitize a new bonded zone to streamline the flow of cross-border goods in the city as well as provide innovative solutions to help small businesses offset the impact of Covid-19.
The comprehensive bonded zone – a classification that offers companies engaged in trade with favorable taxation policies, eased administrative procedures and integrated logistics and manufacturing facilities – is part of Alibaba’s efforts to digitize trade infrastructure for Yiwu, China’s second hub in the Electronic World Trade Platform.
As part of the partnership, Alibaba will work with the municipal government of Yiwu to customize a digital system that accelerates customs clearance for small-parcel international shipments. The service, expected to launch next month, will improve efficiency for overseas merchants making e-commerce deliveries to Chinese consumers.
Also included in the expanded collaboration is a 20,000-square-meter, state-of-the-art exhibition area powered by tools and technologies within the Alibaba digital economy. The first phase of the exhibition site is set to go live in September and will be open to wholesale buyers as well as B2C consumers who want to browse and shop for products.
“With its advantages as a product and SME hub as well as its existing trade infrastructure, Yiwu is the definition of strategic planning for enabling businesses to navigate the digital age,” said Daniel Zhang, chairman and chief executive officer of Alibaba Group. “Alibaba will work together with Yiwu to further facilitate the city’s transformation into a digitized small-commodities trading hub and digitized port as a step toward the collective goal of complete digitization of global trade.”
These measures speak to the Electronic World Trade Platform’s commitment to make globalization more inclusive. First proposed by Alibaba Founder Jack Ma in 2016, the eWTP strives to lower barriers to global trade for small and medium-sized enterprises via simple and efficient policies as well as support in logistics, financing, cloud computing and mobile-payments services. To date, Yiwu and Hangzhou, Alibaba’s home base, are the two cities in China to have established eWTP hubs. The other global hubs include Malaysia, Belgium, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
To further support Yiwu’s participation in the global market, Alibaba will work with the China Commodities City Group to develop a one-stop eWTP digitized cross-border trade services platform catering to SMEs, offering support in areas such as customs clearance, tax filings and foreign-exchange settlement. Similar platforms have also launched in Liege, Belgium and Hangzhou.
Alibaba also unveiled new solutions aimed at helping SMEs recover faster from the pandemic, such as by working with Yiwu’s Zhejiang Chouzhou Commercial Bank to facilitate cross-border transactions. Since the city became an eWTP hub last June, its local businesses have seen an uptick in overseas online sales. Per Alibaba.com, the leading online platform for global B2B trade, Yiwu-based suppliers have attracted nearly 3 million active buyers over the past 12 months, while their online transactions via the platform grew by over 82% year-over-year. This year, to help further boost orders for businesses, Alibaba.com plans to introduce a first-of-its-kind small-commodities online expo event featuring Yiwu’s local products. The platform said it would also organize 20 online trade shows to showcase Yiwu products to more than 5 million international wholesale trading firms.
“We believe a digitized trading world where all core aspects of commerce are digitized is under formation. From merchants to products, from order settlement to logistics, and from a container to a receipt, everything is going to be inseparable from digital technology. With our shared customer base and shared markets, Yiwu and Alibaba will jointly usher in innovations in trade rules, technology and trade models to serve our customers and markets better and create better lives for consumers,” said Zhang.
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