CHANGCHUN — Two more regions in China will have unified customs clearance starting May 1 in a move to facilitate trade amid an economic slowdown.
The change follows customs clearance reform introduced last year to simplify customs formalities and reduce logistics costs in three regions: Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Economic Belt and Guangdong province.
According to a notice issued by the General Administration of Customs on April 1, 10 customs houses in nine provinces along the proposed Silk Road Economic Belt, whose China section spans from eastern province of Shandong to Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in the northwest, will collaborate on customs clearance procedures starting May 1.
Another six customs in the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia autonomous region are also included in the reform.
All imported and exported goods from any customs within each of the five regions will enjoy simplified procedures through the regional integrated clearance system, which will require only one customs declaration.
According to the notice, any customs within the region will recognize checks conducted by another customs house in the region.
In the past, businesses had to declare imported goods at the port’s customs office and then declare them again at local customs in order for goods to enter warehouses.
After simplified procedures were implemented last December in Guangdong, the country’s top provincial exporter, the average time for customs clearance was brought down to 6 hours from 8.3 hours.
The new system will cut the logistics costs of enterprises by 20 to 30 percent and reduce the transportation time of goods by 12 to 24 hours, said Nie Xiaoshan, an official with the Changchun Customs in Jilin province.
With faster goods clearance and transportation, the move is expected to provide a strong impetus to China’s sluggish foreign trade.
The import and export volume in the first two months this year was 3.79 trillion yuan ($616 billion), down 2 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.
China faces a tough challenge in meeting its lowered annual target for foreign trade growth of around 6 percent in 2015. It had a growth target of 7.5 percent in 2014, but actual growth was a mere 2.3 percent.