Alibaba ventures Down Under to help local businesses go global

Alibaba Group opened the doors to its latest overseas headquarters in Melbourne on Saturday, marking another chapter in the e-commerce giant's worldwide expansion.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma at the opening ceremony of the company's new headquarters in Melbourne on Feb 4, 2017

The new office is aimed at supporting the 1,300 Australian and 400 New Zealand businesses selling on Tmall and Tmall Global, Alibaba's online retail platforms, as well as attracting new merchants, according to the company's statement.

But delivering e-commerce services isn't Alibaba's sole mandate Down Under.

It also intends on building the entire operating infrastructure for regional businesses to expand globally, which includes cloud computing, online payments and logistics, said Maggie Zhou, managing director of the new Melbourne office.

Indeed, Alibaba has been increasingly focusing on the cloud. Last month, the Chinese behemoth signed a 12-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee to provide both cloud and e-commerce services.

Alibaba already boasts a strong presence in Australia and New Zealand.

Alibaba and Hollywood
Alibaba and Hollywood

Alibaba Cloud opened a data center in Sydney last year and further expansion in sectors such as travel and digital entertainment are in the pipeline, Zhou said. Alibaba's international business-to-business website has been operating in Australia since 1999 and more than 1,000 bricks-and-mortar stores across the two countries accept Alipay, the e-wallet app owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.

Before attending the headquarter's opening ceremony on Saturday, founder and exective chairman Jack Ma met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney to discuss Ma's e-World Trade Platform project, a blueprint for small and medium enterprises to gain exposure to the global economy.

As part of his visit, Ma also donated $20 million to the University of Newcastle for a new scholarship program and signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia Post to bring the state-run logistics firm to Southeast Asia's e-commerce market via Alibaba-owned Lazada Group.

Australia Post will also work with Alibaba's logistics arm, Cainiao Network, to improve data integration and develop a cross-border delivery service for Australian outbound parcels to China, Saturday's statement said.

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