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Rapid development of cross-border, 'tough strength' for e-commerce

Xue Tianhang

Jinyi comprehensive insurance zone cross-border e-commerce vertical warehouse in Jinhua city, Zhejiang Province, China, January 26, 2024./CFP
Jinyi comprehensive insurance zone cross-border e-commerce vertical warehouse in Jinhua city, Zhejiang Province, China, January 26, 2024./CFP

Jinyi comprehensive insurance zone cross-border e-commerce vertical warehouse in Jinhua city, Zhejiang Province, China, January 26, 2024./CFP

Editor's note: Xue Tianhang is a researcher of Research Center for Regional Coordinated Development, Zhejiang University. The article reflects the authors' opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. It has been translated from Chinese and edited for brevity and clarity. 

The Central Economic Work Conference emphasized that "it is necessary to speed up the cultivation of new kinetic energy of foreign trade, consolidate the basic disk of foreign trade and foreign investment, and expand intermediate goods trade, service trade, digital trade, and cross-border e-commerce exports." Cross-border e-commerce relies on digital technology to conduct transactions and payment settlement by e-commerce platforms, leading to a reduction in trade costs, improvement of trade efficiency, ultimately playing an increasingly important role in international trade and financial settlements.

Cross-border e-commerce in China has developed rapidly, who's characteristics can be described as "large volume, fast growth and strong resilience". As a result, it displays great market vitality and growth resilience, and has become a "dark horse" in foreign trade. In terms of scale, according to the data of the Ministry of Commerce of China, the advantages and potential of cross-border e-commerce "buying from the world and selling to the world" will continue to be released in 2023, with a total import and export volume of 2.38 trillion yuan ($32.9 billion). The import and export scale is about 10 times that of five years ago. In terms of its growth rate, cross-border e-commerce imports and exports increased by 15.6 percent in 2023, which was 15.4 percentage points higher than the national import and export growth rate. The scale of cross-border e-commerce export accounted for more than 7 percent of the total exports with over 100,000 subjects, which became an important kinetic energy to stimulate China's foreign trade. This data highlights cross-border e-commerce not only meets the diversified and personalized needs of domestic consumers, but also helps Chinese products, especially those of small and medium-sized enterprises, to reach the global market. Even when imports and exports in China slowed down due to insufficient external demand among other factors, cross-border e-commerce still continued its rapid growth and showed strong resilience. With the continuous advancement of new rounds of scientific and technological development accompanied with industrial transformation, digital technology injects more vitality into the development of cross-border e-commerce.

Reform and opening up in China is expanding continuously, which is an important reason for promoting the rapid development of cross-border e-commerce. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China has adhered to the basic national policy of opening to the outside world, implementing a high-level trade and investment liberalization and facilitation policy, and accelerating the construction of a new open economic system. China has set up 132 comprehensive experimental areas in cross-border e-commerce, located in six batches and covering 30 provinces with the scale of experimental fields in constant expansion. The list of retail imported goods in cross-border electronic commerce has been continuously adjusted and optimized, and the coverage of tax items of goods in the list is getting wider and wider, with more and more types. Local governments have continuously improved and promoted the reform of regulatory business and improved the efficiency of cross-border e-commerce services. Qingdao and Ningbo optimized the supervision process, further supported qualified enterprises to carry out cross-border e-commerce exports with overseas warehouse businesses, and helped e-commerce enterprises to expand in overseas markets by building relationships with overseas warehouses.

The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China emphasizes that it is necessary to promote high-level opening up and expand the network of high-standard free trade zones facing out to the world. In 2024, China will continue to deepen its opening to the outside world, actively expanding cooperation with free trade partners in the fields of electronic documents, cross-border e-commerce and data governance, while promoting the development of cross-border e-commerce. What's more, China will continue to promote the process of free trade cooperation with relevant countries and regions, strive to further expand the "circle of friends" of free trade partners, continuously contribute to the global network of high-standard free trade zones, share development opportunities with other countries in the world, and promote people of all countries to share the fruits of economic globalization and world economic growth.

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