Cross-border e-commerce upgrade
China will continue with current policies on retail imports and exports via cross-border e-commerce, according to a decision made at a State Council executive meeting on Nov 21.
The meeting, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, decided that the current policies on cross-border e-commerce retail imports will remain unchanged from January 2019. The policies, which require no licensing, registration or record-filing for first-time imports, will apply to retail imports through crossborder e-commerce platforms. Instead, these goods will see more relaxed regulations under imports for personal use.
Meanwhile, the implementation of this policy will be extended from 15 cities to another 22 cities that have just established comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones.
Goods included in the cross-border e-commerce retail imports list have so far enjoyed zero tariffs within a set quota and had their import VAT and consumer tax collected at 70 percent of the statutory taxable amount. Such preferential policies will be extended to another 63 tax categories of high-demand goods, according to a decision taken at the meeting.
It was also decided at the meeting that the quota of goods eligible for the preferential policies will be raised from 2,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan ($288 to $720) per transaction, and from 20,000 yuan to 26,000 yuan per head per year. This quota will be further adjusted as needed in light of increases in personal incomes. At the same time, the authorities will refine export-tax rebate policies in line with international practices to further boost exports via cross-border e-commerce.
The meeting also highlighted the importance of ensuring that cross-border e-commerce businesses, online platforms and payment and logistics service providers assume their responsibilities required by law. Product quality, safety inspection and risk prevention and control should be strengthened for fair competition in the marketplace and better protection of consumer rights and interests.
Innovation plan for free trade zones
The State Council unveiled a variety of measures on Nov 23 to boost reform and innovation at its pilot free trade zones.
The Cabinet said in a notice that developing pilot FTZs was a strategic move by central authorities to deepen overall reform and widen opening-up, and the country must further capitalize on the role of pilot zones as experimental fields of reform and opening-up.
The notice includes 53 measures covering areas that aim to improve the investment environment, further trade facilitation, promote financial innovation to better serve the real economy and support more exploration in human resources.
Restrictions on the percentage of foreign technicians will be relaxed for foreign investment in construction project design companies. Approvals for foreign investors setting up construction-related businesses will be delegated from provincial authorities to pilot FTZs, according to the notice.
Foreign carriers will be allowed to offer passenger and cargo services from Zhengzhou, Henan province, and Xi’an, Shaanxi province, both capitals of provinces with pilot FTZs, to other countries, the notice said.
One-stop services for international trade will also cover freight shipping bills for air and railway service. Medical institutes within pilot FTZs will be able to conduct research programs in cutting-edge technologies related to stem cells. Also, taxation services in line with international standards will be rolled out at pilot FTZs, according to the notice.
Twelve new measures covering securities, insurance and banking services will also be adopted in the FTZs.
The notice gives the green light to qualified FTZs to launch pilot schemes for intellectual property rights securitization. Banks in free trade zones will be allowed to conduct yuan derivative businesses on behalf of overseas institutions, and qualified individuals will be allowed to invest in overseas securities directly in the pilot regions, according to the notice.