Cross-border trade via e-commerce expands

By Zhong Nan | (China Daily Africa)| Updated : 2018-12-14

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The first TEU container marks the opening of the Cross-border E-commerce Industrial Zone in Rizhao, Shandong province, on Nov 11. Song Niansheng / For China Daily    

China's cross-border trade in goods via e-commerce platforms rose to 111.04 billion yuan ($16.13 billion; 14.1 billion euros; £12.6 billion) in the first 10 months of 2018, as the country continues to raise annual transaction volume by individual buyers who make purchases for personal use, officials said on Dec 7.

Through this fast-growing sector, the country's imports surged 86 percent year-on-year to reach 67.18 billion yuan between January and October, while exports jumped by 173.9 percent year-on-year to 43.86 billion yuan, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

"China will continue to adjust the product list and tax policies for cross-border e-commerce retail imports," said Li Chenggang, assistant commerce minister. 

He made the remarks after the country released a policy on Nov 28 enlarging the total number of tariff lines covered in the goods list to 1,321 products under 63 tariff categories.

The products involved in those 63 tariff categories include textiles and clothing, footwear, jewelry, certain food products, small household appliances, stationery, fitness equipment, wine, beer, telescopes, video game consoles and ski boots.

As for transaction volume caps, the limit per transaction has been lifted from 2,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan, while the annual cap has been lifted from 20,000 yuan to 26,000 yuan per person. These caps will be further lifted as individual incomes increase in the future, officials said.

Li said that under the new rules, China will extend the policies currently implemented in the existing 15 pilot cities to another 22 comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones, including Beijing. The aim is to further improve regional distribution of e-commerce development and better satisfy consumer demand.

"Unlike general trade, cross-border e-commerce retail imports mainly serve to provide diversified and quality products to domestic consumers. The products must be sold to consumers directly and confined to personal use," said Wang Wei, director of the Department of Port Administration at the GAC.

On this basis, the government has said cross-border e-commerce retail imports should be regulated as entry of articles for personal use that are not subject to requirements such as first-time import licenses, registrations or filings for record.

Feng Jinping, director of the tariff department at the Ministry of Finance, said the latest policy sets out specific requirements for the responsibilities that should be taken on by government agencies, as well as cross-border e-commerce companies, platforms and service providers within the sector and consumers.

"Cross-border e-commerce companies take the main responsibility for the quality and safety of goods. Cross-border e-commerce platforms must register with the authorities to conduct business activities in China, and bear the responsibility for up-front compensation," Feng said.

With different parties' responsibilities clearly defined, Feng said, supervision during and after transactions will be reinforced, quality-related risks will be better controlled and all entities will have clear standards to follow.