An ASL Airlines Belgium cargo plane carrying 500,000 surgical masks departed from China on Friday and arrived in Belgium’s Liege Airport, where it continued on to its destination in Rome, Italy. The delivery was among the first batch of two million masks and other medical supplies, such as test kits, donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation to help combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus across Europe.
Belgium, which became the first European country to join the Electronic World Trade Platform in 2018, has been working closely with the foundations to facilitate the distribution and delivery of medical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has so far infected more than 140,000 worldwide.
The eWTP is an Alibaba-led initiative that helps small and medium-sized enterprises do business globally. A key element in the agreement between Belgium and Alibaba as part of this initiative is the investment in a smart-logistics hub at Liege Airport in the Wallonia region. Since the outbreak of the novel virus, the airport has played a vital role in ensuring timely deliveries of critical medical supplies both to and from the country – and the continent.
“Liege is the largest cargo airport in Belgium, with easy access to many warehousing and distribution centres stocking vital equipment which is urgently needed in the battle against the coronavirus,” said Luc Partoune, CEO of Liege Airport. “We are proud of our efforts to turn this logistics hub into a highly efficient humanitarian-goods export centre, transporting medical equipment and supplies both to China in an earlier phase of the outbreak, and now to Europe at this time of critical need.”
Wallonia Vice-Minister-President Willy Borsus also emphasised the importance of the strong partnership between Belgium and Alibaba, especially during the global epidemic.
“What we are seeing with eWTP in Liege is much more than cooperation between a company and a logistics centre of excellence. This hub, and the connections flowing to it, have become a vital lifeline channelling necessary supplies to those facing the coronavirus – in Europe and in China. We are honoured that Belgium, and especially Wallonia, can play such a role in coordinating flows of goods to those in need at this critical time,” he said.