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Chinese eCommerce laws offer one-year buffer

With new Chinese eCommerce laws introduced last month, the government has given companies a one-year buffer period to rethink their cross-border strategies.
Under the new regulations, controls are eased on certain imported goods bought online.
Chinese customs authorities say the direct import of cosmetics, baby formula, medical equipment and healthcare-related food will continue in 10 pilot cities without having to seek permission or file special applications.
Companies have been told they have until May 11 next year to bring imported goods into bonded warehouses in the cities, which include Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Zhengzhou. There will be no need for them to complete customs clearance forms, originally required from last month for cross-border eCommerce.
Wanqing Consultancy (Shanghai) CEO Lu Zhenwang, an eCommerce expert, says the April regulation required eCommerce companies to obtain certificates in advance in order to get their goods through customs, but that had already led to a fall in import volumes.
“Many companies have faced challenges in maintaining stock levels because of the difficulty in completing all the customs-related paperwork,” he says. However, the new regulation effectively gives them a one-year window to rethink their procedures and plan well ahead.
China started levying taxes immediately on retail sales on cross-border eCommerce platforms early last month, as well as placing stricter regulations on gaining import permits for goods sold online.
Officials say the aim is to create a more level playing field for eCommerce platforms and traditional retailers and importers, reports However, the regulations triggered mixed reactions among buyers and sellers.
Cross-border eCommerce is not a realistic competitor to traditional importers, says Gao Hongbin, head of AliResearch, a think tank affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding.

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