China sees rapid growth of cross-border e-commerce exports

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According to customs statistics, China’s cross-border e-commerce logged total imports and exports of 2.38 trillion yuan ($330.9 billion) in 2023, up 15.6 percent year on year. In particular, exports totaled 1.83 trillion yuan, up 19.6 percent from a year ago, while imports stood at 548.3 billion yuan, up 3.9 percent.

The rapid development of cross-border e-commerce demonstrates China’s immense market vitality and growth resilience. It not only meets the diverse and individualized needs of Chinese consumers but also helps Chinese products reach global markets, becoming an important driving force for foreign trade development.

At night, warehouses of cross-border e-commerce companies in the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport Comprehensive Bonded Zone, south China’s Guangdong province were still bustling – numerous products were being packed and waiting to be sent to consumers around the world via international flights after customs clearance.

With the development of globalization, an increasing number of Chinese companies are turning their attention to overseas markets in search of greater development opportunities. Cross-border e-commerce exports have become an important pathway for this expansion.

China is actively promoting the healthy, sustainable and innovative development of cross-border e-commerce. It encourages local authorities to leverage industrial and resource advantages to build innovative cross-border e-commerce pilot zones, and develop a model that integrates cross-border e-commerce and industrial belts, so as to facilitate business-to-business exports for cross-border e-commerce enterprises.

According to Zhu Siqiao, associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under China’s Ministry of Commerce, in the face of increasing global trade uncertainty and sluggishness, cross-border e-commerce, relying on flexible, efficient, and resilient supply chains, provides more value-for-money products to global consumers and injects new impetus into global trade growth.

In 2023, relevant departments have continuously improved policies related to customs clearance, taxation, foreign exchange, and innovated regulatory models to promote cost reduction and efficiency improvement for enterprises. They encouraged cross-border e-commerce pilot zones, industry organizations, and companies to actively participate in “Silk Road e-commerce” and Belt and Road economic and trade cooperation, so as to ensure the steady and sustainable growth of cross-border e-commerce exports.

“We have successfully established a foothold in overseas markets thanks to cross-border e-commerce exports and overseas warehouses,” said Lyu Qiang, general manager of Verage, a baggage manufacturer based in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province.

“Not only is the delivery and after-sales service more convenient, but we can also collect timely feedback from foreign consumers through e-commerce platforms. This allows us to continuously optimize our products,” said Lyu.

Since 2023, Verage has achieved sales of over 20 million yuan through cross-border e-commerce platforms, with a year-on-year growth of over 70 percent. 

Hangzhou Customs has been actively exploring new models and applying new scenarios for the development of cross-border e-commerce, supporting traditional industries in expanding overseas markets through new business forms, and aiming to better facilitate the exports of Chinese products with cross-border e-commerce overseas warehouses.

Zhu believes that the rapid development of digital technology and the advancement of regional cooperation will create a better environment for the development of cross-border e-commerce. 

Cross-border e-commerce connects different industries, allowing various sectors such as clothing, footwear, baby care products, furniture, and appliances to access global markets. Additionally, cross-border e-commerce also drives the transformation of traditional manufacturing and trading enterprises, promoting the development of new business forms.

Shandong Jiongxin Trading Co., Ltd. based in a cross-border e-commerce park in Jining, east China’s Shandong province, recently signed a garlic trade order worth $12,000 with a foreign client.

After joining the cross-border e-commerce industrial park, the profit margin of the company’s orders has increased by 50 percent, said Han Ju, general manager of the company.

In Zhuhai, Guangdong province, the customs department is working to streamline cross-border logistics for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Eligible goods to be exported are allowed to go through customs clearance procedures through a “simplified declaration, list-based release and summary statistics” approach. This effort has attracted many logistics companies such as SF Express, DHL, and Cainiao to conduct e-commerce business at the Zhuhai Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, with export destinations reaching over 200 countries and regions.

The Guangzhou Customs in Guangdong province has created a one-stop oversight model for cross-border e-commerce export returns. It allows companies to ship export e-commerce returns that meet resale conditions back to the Nansha Comprehensive Bonded Zone, where unpacking, sorting, shelving, storage, and re-export can be handled in one go.

In 2023, the Guangzhou Customs facilitated over $240 million worth of cross-border e-commerce export return declaration and over 31 million “bundled” export packages.



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