E-COM­MERCE PUSH

Of­fi­cials to boost ex­ports with click of mouse

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By DING QINGFEN dingqingfen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

With tra­di­tional ex­ports in June hav­ing posted the big­gest de­cline since the 2009 global down­turn, China aims to pro­mote fur­ther growth in cross­bor­der e-com­merce, a Min­istry of Com­merce source said.

“Pro­mot­ing out­bound ship­ments through the In­ter­net is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant task for Chi­nese ex­porters and man­u­fac­tur­ers,” said the of­fi­cial in the for­eign trade depart­ment, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The min­istry is “draft­ing de­tailed poli­cies” that will prob­a­bly take ef­fect later this year. The mea­sures would give “a big boost” to Chi­nese ex­ports, said the source.

Europe’s eco­nomic prob­lems, ris­ing costs and grow­ing trade pro­tec­tion­ism all com­bined to con­strain ex­ports in the first half of the year.

In June, ex­ports con­tracted 3.1 per­cent year-on-year, the first monthly de­crease since Jan­uary 2012 and the big­gest de­cline since the 2009 re­ces­sion, ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms.

Over the past few weeks, the govern­ment has acted to sta­bi­lize trade. In late July, cit­ing the com­plex and chal­leng­ing trade en­vi­ron­ment, the cen­tral govern­ment pledged to im­prove poli­cies and ser­vices and widen chan­nels for ex­ports.

The govern­ment also said the na­tion would main­tain sta­ble eco­nomic growth in the sec­ond half by fine-tun­ing poli­cies.

“The mea­sures and com­mit­ments are very im­por­tant for Chi­nese ex­ports. There are more in the pipe­line, mainly about e-com­merce,” said the source.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, the poli­cies aim to pro­vide con­ve­nient and ef­fi­cient e-com­merce plat­forms for ex­porters and help them enlarge their over­seas net­work and re­duce costs.

The poli­cies cover a wide range of is­sues con­cern­ing cus­toms clear­ance, for­eign ex­change, taxes and in­spec­tions.

Com­merce Min­is­ter Gao Hucheng said dur­ing a group in­ter­view last week that China has con­fi­dence in reach­ing this year’s growth tar­get for for­eign trade, al­though the out­look for ex­ports in the sec­ond half is not op­ti­mistic.

Gao said that in ad­di­tion to im­ple­ment­ing the mea­sures an­nounced by the State Coun­cil, the min­istry would sup­port new ways of con­duct­ing for­eign trade that hold vast po­ten­tial, in­clud­ing cross- bor­der e-com­merce.

Dur­ing the past few years, China has seen a rapid rise of ex­ports through e-com­merce plat­forms.

“The an­nual growth rate has reached as high as 50 to 100 per­cent but, un­for­tu­nately, there aren’t any co­or­di­nated mea­sures from the govern­ment,” said the source.

Statis­tics from the global e-com­merce busi­ness plat­form provider PayPal show that in 2013 on­line shop­ping for made-in-China goods by the top five e-com­merce mar­kets (the United States, the United King­dom, Ger­many, Aus­tralia and Brazil) is ex­pected to reach 67.9 bil­lion yuan ($11 bil­lion). The fig­ure will dou­ble by 2018.

Statis­tics from the PayPal re­port show that from 2011 to the first quar­ter of 2012, China’s ex­porters saw trans­ac­tions for ship­ments to three emerg­ing mar­kets (Brazil, In­dia and Rus­sia) through the PayPal sys­tem in­crease by as much as 79 per­cent.

In July, an e- com­merce in­dus­trial park aim­ing to fa­cil­i­tate cross-bor­der trade opened in Hangzhou, in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince. The first phase of the park cov­ers 40,000 square me­ters.

Early in 2012, a hand­ful of cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in­clud­ing Hangzhou, Shang­hai, Zhengzhou, Chongqing and Ningbo won govern­ment ap­proval to act as pilot cities for cross-bor­der e-com­merce.

“Some ex­porters have al­ready done well in lever­ag­ing the e-com­merce chan­nel but, to bring the po­ten­tial into full play, the govern­ment has to con­trib­ute in terms of poli­cies,” said the source.

Ex­perts said China needs to launch de­tailed, pref­er­en­tial mea­sures to cre­ate more busi­ness-friendly e-com­merce plat­forms for China’s ex­ports to un­lock that po­ten­tial fully, es­pe­cially given grim global de­mand.

“Both smaller en­ter­prises and big com­pa­nies need the e- com­merce plat­forms to im­prove ef­fi­ciency, enlarge their sales net­works and re­duce costs,” said Huo Jian­guo, pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion, a think­tank at the min­istry.

But the prob­lem is that there are “tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers”, in­clud­ing cus­toms clear­ance, lo­gis­tics, tax and for­eign ex­change, he said. “They need to be solved.”

Many small and medi­um­sized for­eign trade en­ter­prises have shifted to e-com­merce in re­cent years, ei­ther by set­ting up their own on­line busi­ness plat­forms or part­ner­ing with e-com­merce ser­vice providers such as Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd and US- based eBay Inc.

In 2012, the Yiwu Small­Com­modi­ties Mar­ket in Zhe­jiang prov­ince, the world’s largest mar­ket for small items such as toys and house­hold gad­gets, saw its on­line sales and ship­ments through Alibaba by its 230,000 out­bound e-com­merce sell­ers gain by an as­ton­ish­ing 400 per­cent.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

An e-com­merce stand set up by Dongcheng dis­trict at the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional Fair for Trade in Ser­vices. The coun­try is pre­par­ing mea­sures to pro­mote cross-bor­der e-com­merce in a bid to boost for­eign trade.

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