E-commerce creates cyber Silk Road

Updated: 2015-09-08 10:47

By Yang Ziman(China Daily)

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Business leaders from around the world are looking to tap the potential of cross-border e-commerce as the country advances its Belt and Road initiative, according to the keynote speakers at the 14th World Business Leaders Roundtable on Monday, ahead of this year's China International Fair for Investment and Trade.

During the roundtable, business leaders from the United Kingdom, Germany, and India, among other countries, highlighted the new opportunities offered by cross-border e-commerce in the world's largest consumer market.

"China's efforts to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, and its four free trade zones have not only created great capital flows and boosted infrastructure construction, they have also opened up the Chinese market, where the middle class has become increasingly stronger," said Ghazi Abu Nahl, president of World Trade Centers Association.

"Their growing purchasing power will create a huge potential market for the cross-border e-commerce," he said.

China's cross-border e-commerce has developed rapidly in recent years. In 2014, the country's cross-border e-commerce trade volume was 4.2 trillion yuan ($670 billion), up 33 percent year-on-year, and it has been estimated that by 2016, China's cross-border e-commerce trade volume will reach 6.5 trillion yuan.

Stephen Phillips, chief executive officer of the China-Britain Business Council, pointed out that Chinese companies' internationalization efforts will lead to more collaboration opportunities.

"Many Chinese enterprises, such as Alibaba and Jingdong, are trying to build connections with other countries in the world and go global, just like many export companies in Britain," said Phillips. "As a result, there are great opportunities for collaboration between China and the UK, particularly as China implements its Belt and Road strategy."

Otto Group, a German e-commerce retail company that operates in more than 20 countries, is looking to grow its women's underwear brand Lascana in China, according to Michael Heller, the company's chairman.

"At the moment, 17 percent of our clients are from China. But I believe our Chinese client base will grow larger since Lascana takes up 25 percent of the market share in Germany," " said Heller. "We hope that we can set up more connections with more Chinese partners to bring our inspiration for women's beauty to China through e-commerce."

Wang Jingzhen, vice-chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said in his keynote speech that cross-border e-commerce was one of the five key points proposed by President Xi Jinping for the Belt and Road, and it is an important part of the connecting infrastructure.

"The Belt and Road initiative has opened up a more convenient trading environment for cross-border e-commerce, which is growing rapidly. It can even be said that a cyber Silk Road is opening up for countries along the Belt and Road," said Wang.

However, he cautioned that China's cross-border e-commerce is still at a very early stage. "Challenges in logistics, pricing and the availability of products have yet to be overcome," Wang said.