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SHANGHAI: April 12, 2017. Kuehne + Nagel and Alibaba.com, the B2B business arm of the Alibaba Group, are combining their respective capabilities to offer China-based shippers eCommerce logistics solutions.

For the past year China customers have been able to get airfreight and LCL shipping quotes, book a pickup and arrange a delivery via K+N's digital solution KN FreightNet on Alibaba.com.

Now, the partners will extend their suite of services covering air, sea, rail, overland and contract logistics to markets outside China.

KN contract logisticsThe news follows last month's announcement by China's ministry of Commerce updating its guidance on rules for cross-border e-commerce. Overseas goods purchased online and distributed through bonded warehouses will continue to receive some preferential treatment, avoiding quarantine and quality checks that could have brought the import of many popular foreign products to a halt.

Last April, Beijing announced changes to a pilot program meant to bolster Chinese consumers' ability to buy online directly from overseas merchants via cross-border e-commerce.

The proposed changes would have increased the tariffs paid on that merchandise and removed the preferential regulatory treatment.

For Alibaba the government announcement means the online purchase of overseas goods will continue, with marketing research firm eMarketer predicting the sector will reach US$157.7 billion by 2020 from US$86 billion last year.

Cheng Ouyang, a director at Alibaba's Cross-Border E-Commerce Research Center, called the government's announcement a "positive signal" for the sector.

Part of the ministry's announcement also included the addition of five more pilot zones, or testing areas for bonded warehouses, in Dalian, Hefei, Chengdu, Qingdao and Suzhou, bringing the total number to 15.

Alibaba's logistics affiliate Cainiao Network said it welcomed the news. "We already have a strong network and will work closely with our partners in the newly announced pilot zones to continuously provide seamless cross-border logistics service and better serve both merchants and consumers," said James Zhao, director of import logistics at Cainiao.

It's a view obviously shared by North Asia Kuehne + Nagel president Wong Siew Loong: 
"For Kuehne + Nagel, the establishment of this relationship is in line with our global strategy to digitalize logistics services in order to meet the evolving needs of customers today. We look forward to further developing this cooperation by expanding the scope of our e- commerce logistics offering to Alibaba customers in the future."