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Global e-commerce to boost imports

Updated: Dec 10,2018 7:44 AM     China Daily

BEIJING — A new policy to be announced soon will allow consumers in China to buy more high-quality imported products via cross-border e-commerce, according to a report in the Economic Information Daily.

Some 63 categories of products will be added to the list of duty-free goods via cross-border e-commerce platforms, covering more high-demand consumer goods such as electronics, small home appliances, food and healthcare products, according to the newspaper’s report published late last month.

Goods on the list have so far enjoyed zero tariffs within a set quota and had their import value-added tax or VAT and consumer tax collected at 70 percent of the statutory taxable amount.

From Jan 1, however, the annual quota on cross-border e-commerce purchases for individual buyers will rise to 26,000 yuan (about $3,741) from 20,000 yuan, according to the minutes of a meeting of the State Council held in November.

The tax-free limits on single transactions will increase to 5,000 yuan from 2,000 yuan.

The new policy will be applied to cross-border e-commerce pilot zones in another 22 cities, including Beijing, Nanjing and Shenyang.

“The new policy will boost confidence of cross-border e-commerce companies, since it enhances policy certainty,” said Zhang Li, a researcher with the Ministry of Commerce, in his remarks to the newspaper.

“The expanded quota will win back consumers who are fond of shopping overseas and unleash more spending power.”

Liu Peng, general manager of Tmall Global, Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce platform, said the new policy brought stability and continuity. In the past four years, Tmall Global has introduced nearly 19,000 overseas brands from 75 countries to Chinese consumers. More than 80 percent of them were newcomers to the Chinese market.

The move came after the Chinese leader promised to boost imports by lowering tariffs, improving customs clearance, reducing the cost of importing goods and accelerating cross-border e-commerce.

Chinese consumers have become increasingly drawn to foreign brands via e-commerce platforms. Retail imports via those platforms reached 56.6 billion yuan in 2017, up 75.5 percent year-on-year. In the first 10 months this year, the import value rose 53.7 percent year-on-year to reach 67.2 billion yuan.

In 2017, cross-border e-commerce consumers accounted for 10.2 percent of China’s total e-commerce consumers, up from 1.6 percent in 2014, according to a research report on China’s import market jointly released by the China Chamber of International Commerce, global auditing and consultancy firm Deloitte, and Alibaba’s AliResearch.

Since 2016, Chinese consumers have increasingly preferred buying high-quality products, in addition to products for basic living. Sales of digital home appliances, cosmetics, clothing, healthcare products and food have increased rapidly online.

“The new policies will not only make cross-border trade more convenient, but also meet consumers’ upgraded needs and improve regulation and supervision of cross-border e-commerce imports,” said Wang Jian, a professor with the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Li Mingtao, head of research at the China E-commerce Research Center, said he expected more resources and opportunities would flow to cross-border e-commerce, generating more business opportunities.

“It shows China means business in opening up and reform,” Li said.