A program was launched at Guangzhou’s airport on Sept 24 that provides faster customs-clearing services for goods imported through online vendors, as part of the government’s effort to support cross-border e-commerce.
Under this program, online orders, payment receipts and waybills are electronically transmitted to customs when consumers place online orders for imported items. Customs levies import duties on these orders at the rates applicable to personal items.
The system will cut shipping times, including customs clearance, by more than half, said Zhuang Zhihong, general manager of COSCO International Air Freight Guangzhou Co.
The first shipment imported in this way through online discount retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd was cleared at the Guangzhou airport on Sept 24.
A similar system was launched in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in March.
The Guangzhou Customs office, COSCO International Air Freight Guangzhou, Vipshop and payment services provider 99Bill.com have signed a memorandum of understanding covering cooperation in customs clearing for accredited businesses, said Lai Shujia, deputy chief of the Guangzhou Customs office.
Chinese consumers are buying more imported goods online, and most of those packages pass through customs without examination. Packages chosen for spot checks often face delivery delays and customs duty applied at the rates for general trade, which are higher than for small orders of personal goods.
Guangzhou is one of the pilot cities in cross-border e-commerce, and a number of e-commerce companies are talking with the Guangzhou Customs office about using the new service, Lai said.
In connection with the new service, United States-listed Vipshop announced a global discount sale.
Annual online purchases of overseas goods by Chinese consumers are expected to top 1 trillion yuan ($163 billion) in 2018, involving 35.6 million customers, said Tang Yizhi, senior vice-president of Vipshop (China) Co, citing a report by US e-payment company PayPal Inc.
Last year, 18 million customers in China spent 213.6 billion yuan on such purchases, PayPal estimated.