BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Encouraged by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese e-commerce enterprises continue expanding investment in and cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road (B&R) routes, further promoting e-commerce development in those countries.
-- Fast growing e-commerce
The e-commerce markets of the countries along the B&R routes have been growing rapidly in recent years.
The countries' average indicators of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce index, which measures an economy's preparedness to support online shopping, stood at 49 percent in 2017, higher than the world's average of 47.2 percent, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The e-commerce sector in Southeast Asia is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 32 percent in the next decade, predicted China International Electronic Commerce Center.
Southeast Asia's e-commerce market is expected to exceed 64 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, estimated Google and Temasek Holdings Private Limited.
Specifically, Vietnam's e-commerce sales grows at an annual rate of 35 percent and its e-commerce retail sales is estimated to total 10 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. The country now has 35 million e-commerce consumers, according to Vietnam's official statistics.
Cross-border e-commerce (CBEC) has become an integral part of China's cooperation with countries under the framework of BRI.
China's retail imports and exports through the CBEC management platform of customs amounted to 134.7 billion yuan in 2018, up 50 percent year on year, Gao Feng, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said at a press conference in February.
The value of CBEC transaction between China and Cambodia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Austria grew at an average rate of more than 100 percent in 2018, added Gao.
So far, China has forged e-commerce cooperation partnership with 18 countries such as Italy, Panama, Argentina, Iceland, Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Russia, Kazakhstan, Austria, according to MOC. Some countries along the B&R routes have also expressed their interest in enhancing cooperation with China in the field of e-commerce, industry insiders said.
-- Accelerating business expansion
Alibaba, JD.com, Tencent, DHgate.com and other Chinese enterprises involving in e-commerce have quickened business expansion in countries along the B&R routes through investment, merger and acquisition, and cooperation.
Alibaba acquired Daraz in May 2018, aiming to enter South Asian markets through the largest e-commerce platform in Pakistan.
Through the partnership, Alibaba could better serve consumers and drive the long-term development of South Asian economies by sharing related technology and expertise with enterprises in the region, said Zhang Yong, CEO of Alibaba.
Daraz said it could take full advantage of the cooperation with Alibaba to further pull up its market share in South Asia.
Alibaba has been actively engaged in scaling up its overseas presence over the past two years. It bought Lazada, a well-established e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, at a price of one billion U.S. dollars in 2016, and added another one billion U.S. dollars of investment in the platform in 2017 and two billion U.S. dollars in 2018.
Alibaba also invested in SingPost of Singapore, Turkish e-commerce platform Trendyol, and Indonesia's largest e-commerce platform Tokopedia, becoming the largest e-commerce partner of Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia, according to the Chinese Internet giant.
JD.com, another leading e-commerce player in China, acquired a stake of 22 percent in Tiki, a Vietnam-based e-retailer in 2018, and set up a joint venture engaged in third-party payment with Central Group, Thailand's leading retail conglomerate.
Tencent, also a Chinese Internet leader, entered the Vietnamese e-commerce market through Shopee, a Singapore-based e-commerce platform in which Tencent holds a stake of 40 percent, and later expanded business into Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
DHgate.com, working on building a global online trading channel for small- and medium-sized enterprises at home and abroad, has worked with two million Chinese suppliers and 21 million foreign purchasers as of March 2019 to provide products for consumers in 222 countries and regions worldwide, said Diane Wang, founder and CEO of DHgate.com.
--Transformation and upgrading
As B&R construction deepens, Chinese enterprises continue to advance the transformation and upgrading of e-commerce in countries along the routes.
Alibaba's new retail keeps providing reference for countries to develop new e-commerce modes since it was proposed in 2016 by Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.
The new format integrates offline and online offerings by using Internet technology such as big data and artificial intelligence, thus improving consumer experience.
Alibaba's e-marketplace T-mall launched the world's first cross-border new retail project in 2018 in east China's Hangzhou city, with efforts to help Chinese consumers enjoy the same offline goods as online ones and buy overseas goods at home at the same price as abroad.
Domestic and foreign CBEC enterprises can draw upon Alibaba's experience and open their own new retail stores, said industry insiders, adding that cross-border new retail market will become more mature with Alibaba's trials.
Chinese enterprises go on to push forward the development of cross-border logistics and payment in countries along the B&R routes, facilitating e-commerce growth of the economies.
AliExpress, Alibaba's global online retail platform that receives orders everyday from over 200 countries, of which 65 are located along B&R routes, has joined hands with Cainiao Logistics, Alibaba's logistic arm to lift up distribution and delivery efficiency in overseas markets.
Cainiao Logistics has opened 16 cross-border routes, set up 74 cross-border warehouses, and partnered with 90 foreign logistics companies to provide delivery service to more than 220 countries and regions, according to Shen Difan, general manager of AliExpress.
AliExpress has also supported settlement in 18 different currencies and covered all the mainstream overseas payment methods in partnership with Alipay and more than 200 foreign financial institutions, said Shen.
Specially, in Latin America, China has brought not only quality China-made products at affordable prices, but also a set of solutions to advance local e-commerce infrastructure such as logistics and e-payment, stated Trudy Dai, Alibaba's co-founder and president of Wholesale Marketplaces. (Edited by Su Dan)