China's new cross-border integrated pilot zones, to stabilise foreign trade and investment
BEIJING - China will set up 46 new integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, as well as support processing trade with new steps and hold the Canton Fair online to keep foreign trade and investment stable amid the epidemic, according to the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday.
Figures from the general administration of customs showed that the retail sales of China's cross-border e-commerce businesses reached 186.21 billion yuan (about 26.25 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019.
The Tuesday meeting noted the massive impact of the fast-evolving outbreak worldwide on the global economy, trade and investment. The fast growth of cross-border e-commerce in recent years has become a new highlight in the country's foreign trade. It is important to leverage the unique strength of cross-border e-commerce when the traditional sectors in foreign trade are hit hard in the Covid-19 outbreak, in order to drive foreign trade with new business forms in this trying time.
"Tackling the economic impact of the outbreak abroad is a pressing task. With the tight containment measures introduced across countries, foreign trade and investment are persistently going downward," Li said.
The meeting decided to set up another 46 integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce on top of the 59 existing ones. In addition to applying the practices proven effective in boosting the flow of commerce, firms in these zones will enjoy such support policies as exemption of value-added and consumption taxes on retail exports and assessed levy of the corporate income tax.
Integrated pilot zones with proper conditions will be listed in the pilot program on retail imports of cross-border e-commerce. Companies will be supported to jointly build and share overseas warehouses.
"We must accelerate the development of cross-border e-commerce and other new models to boost foreign trade and investment. Competent departments must exercise sound quality supervision and ensure unimpeded logistic services," Li said.
Measures to boost processing trade are also discussed at the meeting. With processing trade accounting for one fourth of the country's foreign trade, the meeting stressed the need to coordinate domestic and foreign trade and help companies engaged in processing trade tackle their difficulties, as well as to stabilise foreign investment and employment.
"In a globalised world, countries all have a stake in each other's future. The Chinese economy has been deeply integrated into the world economy. We must promptly analyse the outbreak's impact on the industrial chains and work out our policy response accordingly. This is vitally important for stabilising employment," Li said.
It was decided at the meeting that interests of the deferred tax for the bonded materials or finished products in processing trade sold domestically will be temporarily waived till the end of this year. The pilot program where processing trade companies may pay duty for their domestic sales as either imported materials or finished goods will be extended to all the integrated bonded zones.
The category of industries where foreign investment is encouraged will be expanded, and the list of prohibited goods in processing trade will be shortened.
"We must take a holistic approach in developing domestic and foreign trade, and swiftly introduce support policies prioritising the domestic sales by processing trade companies," Li added.
It was also decided that given the serious outbreak situation globally, the 127th China Import and Export Fair, also known as Canton Fair, will be hosted online in mid- to late June.
Companies from home and abroad will be widely invited to exhibit their products online. Powered by advanced information technology, the Fair will provide around-the-clock services for online product promotion, matchmaking and business negotiations. It will be an Internet-enabled foreign trade platform of quality and speciality products where Chinese and foreign businesses may place orders and cut deals without the hassle of travel.