China to extend cross-border e-commerce scheme amid COVID-19

China has decided to set up more comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones as a way to bolster foreign trade clobbered by the COVID-19 pandemic, China's State Council announced on Tuesday. 

The meeting, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, proclaimed to establish 46 more pilot zones, in addition to the 59 in existence, to bring full play to the distinctive advantages of cross-border e-commerce and accelerate foreign trade. 

The Chinese government gives high priority to the development of pilot zones as it sees cross-border e-commerce as a major step forward in nurturing new growth drivers and beefing up the country's global competitiveness. 

In 2018, China's cross-border e-commerce transactions grew by 50 percent to the tune of 134.7 billion yuan (19.3 billion U.S. dollars), according to the data from the country's customs administration. Goods sold for export surged by 67 percent to 56 billion yuan (8 billion U.S. dollars) while imports grew by 39.8 percent to reach 79 billion yuan (11.3 billion U.S. dollars). 

Exported retail goods from the pilot zones shall be exempted from value-added tax (VAT) and consumption tax. Taxpayers' enterprise income taxes in these zones will be collected according to the fixed amount upon assessment or by verifying the taxable income rate, said the meeting.

E-commerce companies are encouraged to develop and share overseas warehouses and global marketing network, cultivate their own brands and diversify export markets to upgrade foreign trade and enhance economic competitiveness. 

The meeting also pointed out the 127th session of the China Import and Export Fair, or the Canton Fair, will be held online in June amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The fair was previously scheduled between April 15 and May 5.