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State Council extends cross-border zones to facilitate e-commerce

By Xu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-21 07:05

China will set up more cross-border e-commerce pilot zones to facilitate trade and boost China's global competitiveness, under a decision made at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

The meeting decided to extend the success of such zones to more cities with good infrastructure and strong trade and e-commerce development potential. The State Council set up the original initiative in Hangzhou in 2015 before it was expanded to another 12 cities, including Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing, starting in early 2016.

Some practices are going national, like online comprehensive service platforms with customs clearance, logistics, tax refunds, payment, fundraising and risk control services, and offline industrial parks with 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 advantages," Li said. "Prospects for cross-border e-commerce are very bright."

According to the Ministry of Commerce, 220 countries and regions were covered by China's cross-border e-commerce network as of 2016, with sales of 5.85 trillion yuan ($890 billion), a 28.2 percent year-on-year increase.

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

The government will streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and improve service. Developing the value chain also helps, including overseas storage facilities covering key countries and markets and logistics networks.

"We need to expand and clone accumulated good experience and practices, 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.

Exploration and innovation by the zones was supported. Online platforms will be integrated to better provide one-stop services to share information, regulatory credentials and enforcement resources. The government will push for further development of the sector's credit system and improve ways to evaluate e-commerce, safeguard transactions, better protect consumers and intellectual property rights 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," Li said.

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