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Fresh steps to upgrade trade

By ZHONG NAN China Daily Updated: 2021-07-13
A visitor buys goods at a cross-border e-commerce expo in Zhengzhou, Henan province.[Photo/Xinhua]

Official stresses digitized overseas warehouses, policy systems for competitive edge

China will implement fresh measures like increasing the number of comprehensive bonded pilot zones, encouraging the use of new technologies and setting up digitized warehouses overseas to boost new forms and models of foreign trade, said a senior government official.

This move should help advance the process of trade upgrade and generate new competitive strengths for China, said Ren Hongbin, assistant minister of commerce.

He was elaborating on the implementation details of the country's latest policy circular to boost new forms and models of foreign trade.

The policy was issued by the General Office of the State Council last week. Ren said China seeks to have better policy systems for foreign trade by 2025, supported by leading companies and industrial clusters with global competitiveness.

The new forms and models of foreign trade refer to various businesses, including cross-border e-commerce, market procurement, comprehensive foreign trade service providers, bonded maintenance, offshore trade and overseas warehouses, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said.

Growth in these areas will put China at the forefront of innovation-driven nations. Facilitation of free trade will be at a world-leading level by 2035, Ren said at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

"The government will support traditional foreign trade companies, cross-border e-commerce platforms and logistics firms to develop overseas warehouses and make them more digitized," said Ren.

He also said services related to foreign trade should target specific areas, and encourage shared innovation in marketing, payment, delivery, logistics, and quality control, among others.

Apart from planning to increase its foreign trade volume from $4.65 trillion in 2020 to $5.1 trillion by 2025, China will expand the proportion of new forms of foreign trade from 7 percent of the total last year to 10 percent in 2025 to foster new competitive strengths, the MOC said in a 14th Five-Year (2021-25) commercial development plan it published last week.

Li Xingqian, director-general of the ministry's foreign trade department, said China's cross-border e-commerce has grown nearly tenfold over the past five years.

Chinese companies currently run more than 1,900 overseas warehouses and about 130 bonded maintenance projects of processing trade across the world, he said.

Foreign trade via cross-border e-commerce advanced 31.1 percent to 1.69 trillion yuan ($261.11 billion) in 2020, with over 10,000 traditional trade firms going online for the first time in 2020.

Many of them adopted digital solutions, including big data, business-to-business or B2B platforms and online exhibition activities to attract overseas customers and boost sales, according to information released by the General Administration of Customs.

Johnny Chou, chairman and CEO of Best Inc, a Hangzhou, Zhejiang province-headquartered integrated supply chain and logistics solutions provider with a business network in a number of Southeast Asian countries, said cross-border e-commerce business is not only another boon to stimulate consumption of quality products, but also a solution that can strengthen the dual-circulation development paradigm in the field of trade.

China's new development pattern has the domestic market as the mainstay while the domestic and foreign markets reinforce each other.

The government circular on trade upgrade stressed improving related policies, designating more areas as integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, and establishing full-fledged physical industrial parks in such integrated pilot zones by 2025.

Traditional export-oriented companies will benefit from a better policy framework for market purchase-based export trade featuring fast Customs clearance.

The target is to nurture about 10 domestic and foreign-trade integrated markets with exports exceeding over 100 billion yuan by 2025, the circular said.

In addition to facilitating domestic companies to build new overseas warehouses and ship more products to global markets, China's new forms and models of foreign trade, led by cross-border e-commerce boom, will help foreign businesses in China reach more consumers in the country's lower-tier cities and counties, said leaders of foreign businesses.

"With the magic of cross-border e-commerce, we are finding that we can reach consumers throughout China, no matter where they are. That was not possible a decade ago," said Tara McCarthy, CEO of the Irish Food Board, the agency which promotes Ireland's food products.