The e-commerce sector is booming in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Online sales from BRI countries on Alibaba’s international division Tmall Global more than doubled in 2018 and more than half of the buyers were from BRI countries, according to the company.
The number of online orders from BRI countries accounts for 57 percent of the total while the turnover reached 49 percent of the total online revenue on AliExpress, Alibaba’s international online trading platform, also called as “International Taobao” by many sellers. Data also showed that Thailand has the fastest sales growth at 125 percent.
In terms of the categories of products, mobile phones, cosmetics and health products, computers and internet items were the most popular Chinese goods in overseas markets last year. While household appliances and clothes have the fastest sales growth, according to JD.com, another Chinese e-commerce giant.
“Over the past five years, we have made great progress as the participants all gained benefits from Belt and Road Initiative,” said Xiao Weiming, director general of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative in the Department of General Affairs.
The massive online trade volume would have not been impossible without the improvement of logistics which shortened the travel and delivery time. Data showed that Chinese packages only need 10 days to be sent to other countries, which previously took about 70 days. Russian buyers, for example, could receive their goods within five days in 2019, instead of the 50 days in 2016.
An efficient transportation infrastructure with great connectivity has generated many business activities. According to Alibaba, the company has built 250 cross-border warehouses around the world.
China’s e-commerce has realized the vast opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative, which includes more than 60 percent of the world’s population and more than 30 percent of global economic output.
Statistics from the Chinese customs show that the total import and export volume of cross-border e-commerce retail in China reached 134.7 billion yuan ($20 billion) in 2018, with a 50 percent increase over the previous year. According to research agency CI Consulting, by 2020, trade volume through cross-border e-commerce will account for 37.6 percent of China’s total exports and imports, making it a significant part of China’s foreign trade.