Buf­fer pe­riod given on tax­ing im­ported goods sold on­line

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By MENGJING mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

E-com­merce com­pa­nies have been given a one-year buf­fer pe­riod to re­think their cross­bor­der strate­gies, af­ter the gov­ern­ment re­leased new reg­u­la­tions, whicheasec­on­trols in­tro­duced in April on cer­tain im­ported goods sold on­line.

The coun­try's cus­toms au­thor­i­ty­said it will­con­tin­ueto al­low the di­rect im­port of cos­met­ics, baby for­mula, med­i­cal equip­ment and health­care-re­lated food in 10 pilot cities, with­out per­mis­sion, or the fil­ing of spe­cial ap­pli­ca­tions.

Com­pa­nies have been told they have un­tilMay 11, 2017 to bring im­ported goods into bonded ware­houses in the cities — in­clud­ing Shang­hai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou and Shen­zhen— with­out hav­ing to com­plete cus­toms clear­ance forms orig­i­nally re­quired from early April on cross-bor­der e-com­merce ac­tiv­i­ties.

Cus­toms of­fi­cials were un­avail­able to com­ment on the lat­est move on Wed­nes­day, but Bei­jing-based JD.com Inc and an­other ma­jor e-com­merce plat­form, which asked not to be named, both con­firmed they had re­ceived the re­prieve no­tice.

Lu Zhen­wang, an e-com­merce ex­pert and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Shang­hai-based Wan­qing Con­sul­tancy, said the April reg­u­la­tion re­quired e-com­merce com­pa­nies to ob­tain cer­tifi­cates first in order to get their goods through cus­toms, but that had al­ready led to a fall in im­port vol­umes.

“Many com­pa­nies have faced chal­lenges in main­tain­ing stock lev­els be­cause of the dif­fi­culty in com­plet­ing all the cus­toms-re­lated pa­per­work,” he said.

But the new reg­u­la­tion now gives them ef­fec­tively a oneyear win­dow to re­think their pro­ce­dures and plan well ahead, said Lu.

China started levy­ing taxes im­me­di­ately on re­tail sales on cross-bor­der e-com­merce plat­forms in early April, as well as plac­ing stricter reg­u­la­tions on gain­ing im­port per­mits for goods sold on­line.

The aim was to cre­ate a more level-play­ing field, said of­fi­cials, for e-com­merce plat­forms and tra­di­tional re­tail­ers and im­porters.

The reg­u­la­tions, how­ever, trig­gered mixed re­ac­tions among buy­ers and sell­ers, with many sim­ply ex­pect­ing prices of im­ported goods sold on­line to be driven higher, re­sult­ing in a fall in sales.

Gao Hong­bin, head of AliRe­search, a think tank af­fil­i­ated with Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, said cross-bor­der e-com­merce is not a re­al­is­tic com­peti­tor to tra­di­tional im­porters.

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