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China to further cross-border e-commerce to boost foreign trade

Xu Wei
Updated: Sep 20,2017 9:41 PM

China will set up more cross-border e-commerce pilot zones for trade facilitation to boost China’s global competitiveness, according to a decision made at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Sept 20.

The meeting decided to extend the success of cross-border e-commerce pilot zones to more cities across the country with good infrastructure and strong trade and e-commerce development potential. The original initiative was set in motion by the State Council in Hangzhou in 2015, before being expanded to 12 more cities, including Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, since early 2016.

Some good practices are going national, such as the development of online comprehensive service platforms incorporating customs clearance, logistics, tax refunds, payments, fund-raising and risk control services and offline industrial parks providing whole-industrial-chain services.

“We need to enable the healthy development of cross-border e-commerce and speed up the growth of new engines, making the foreign trade sector more adaptive to new circumstances and better endowed with new cutting-edge practices,” Premier Li said. “The prospects for cross-border e-commerce are very bright.”

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that 220 countries and regions across the world were covered by China’s cross-border e-commerce network as of 2016, with a turnover of 5.85 trillion yuan ($889.7 billion), up by 28.2 percent year-on-year.

The total volume of foreign trade via cross-border e-commerce in the 13 pilot zones reached 163.7 billion yuan in 2016, up by more than 100 percent year-on-year. More than 400 third-party platforms were established in the pilot zones, as were 20,000 cross-border e-commerce trade companies.

The government will further reform to streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and improve services, and improve the policy matrix for cross-border e-commerce, to boost efficiency and reduce the costs of doing business.

Developing the entire value chain of e-commerce will be a form of support measures, including establishing overseas storage facilities covering key countries and markets and logistics networks.

“We need to expand and clone good experiences and practices accumulated, and lay down the rules in a timely manner. The new growth drivers’ capacity to boost employment, extend the industry chain and buttress growth cannot be overestimated,” the Premier said.

The meeting also decided to support the exploration and innovation efforts by the pilot zones. Different online platforms will be integrated to better provide one-stop services to share information, regulatory credentials and enforcement resources.

Parallel efforts will be made to match online platforms with robust offline industrial cluster development and comprehensive services.

The government will also step up the development of credit systems in the cross-border e-commerce sector and improve mechanisms to evaluate the e-commerce sector, safeguard transactions, better protect consumers, IPR and manage risks.

“Government oversight should be both enabling and prudent. Producers and platform companies should live up to their responsibilities, while the government’s focus is on enhancing compliance oversight,” Premier Li said.