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New rules to streamline customs process

Updated: 2015-07-03 10:55
By Yu Ran in Shanghai (China Daily USA)

China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone unveiled a raft of measures and rules to improve customs service for high-technology companies in the zone, as a part of efforts to support the city's drive to become a global innovation center.

Eight measures aiming to support high-tech innovative enterprises and eight rules to simplify the customs clearance process and efficiency for all FTZ-based enterprises were released by Shanghai Customs at a recent press conference.

"These new measures and regulations are market-oriented and based on enterprises' needs, and aim to tackle actual problems and boost trade facilitation," said Zheng Jugang, vice director of Shanghai Customs.

According to the eight measures, an air cargo service center will be set up in Zhangjiang High-Tech Park in Shanghai's Pudong New Area to provide one-stop customs service including delivery of import manifest, customs declaration and customs inspection.

The proposed center will reduce customs clearance time to between six and eight hours from the previous at least two working days, benefiting about 900 high-technology companies in Zhangjiang and neighboring areas.

Zhangjiang will be the core carrier of the plan that will make the city an international innovation center with global influence, equipped with a series of high-tech infrastructure and functional platforms, said Zheng.

Customs formalities for imports of reagents, samples and equipment by high-tech companies, bio-pharmaceutical firms and microelectronics manufacturers will be streamlined.

Customs has also pledged to cut the threshold for small and medium-sized firms to offer offshore outsourcing services and encourage clusters of advanced manufacturing such as aircraft and new-energy vehicles in the FTZ.

Other measures include introducing customized customs services for high-tech companies, setting up bonded warehouses from small businesses and strengthening intellectual property protection.

"Those more transparent measures will improve the trading environment with higher efficiency and offer more support for the development of new trading forms such as bulk commodities and offshore outsourcing in the zone," said Jian Danian, deputy director of the administration committee of the Shanghai FTZ.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Customs also announced another eight rules to solve problems and provide supervision for enterprises to level up the trade facilitation.

As one focus and a first attempt in the country, two rules related to the classification of goods will be introduced to help enterprises

A pre-ruling system on classification of imported goods will be carried out before the arrival of cargos on the port, which will allow the enterprises or importers to estimate the prime costs, in order to come up with more reasonable prices.

An online information platform will also be set up to offer customs classification information and professional service for enterprises to classify and declare their goods more efficiently and accurately.

"It is a breakthrough to launch our own administrative ruling on classification of trading goods, to speed up the clearance procedure of goods in different categories for local companies," said Zheng.

In addition, five of those eight regulations including one-stop declaration and examination service, and simpler customs procedures for imports of art supplies are proposed to offer a more simplified clearance system for enterprises to declare their goods.

In the first five months of this year, trade in the FTZ totalled 287.1 billion yuan ($46.3 billion), accounting for 26 percent of the city's total.

"The shortened customs clearance process will enable those trading companies within the zone to import and export goods more efficiently," said Chen Bo, secretary-general in the free trade zone research institution of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

Chen pointed out that Shanghai is now ideally positioned to become the economic engine of the Yangtze River Delta with its pioneered policies. At the same time, the city also will realize the target of taking the lead in the new round of reform.

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