E-commerce should not be viewed as a “fictitious’’ entity as it helps drive the real economy, not least by reducing costs and helping to stimulate growth, Premier Li Keqiang said at the State Council executive meeting on April 1.
Measures were announced at the meeting to accelerate the development of e-commerce. A clear attitude should be adopted for e-commerce, first actively promote and then gradually regulate, the Premier said.
E-commerce paves the way for mass entrepreneurship and innovation, both vital ingredients to create employment, the Premier said.
“Even with a slowdown in economic growth, the employment rate has increased,’’ the Premier said. “Streamlining administration and commercial reform are effective, but e-commerce plays an important role.”
He stressed that e-commerce not only drives the development of express delivery capabilities, but also changes production patterns and leads to innovative manufacturing and service industries.
“Do not look down upon e-commerce. Some online stores learned the management pattern of international supermarkets - receiving orders online, and then preparing them in factories - in this way driving the real economy,” he said.
The Premier said that some entrepreneurs used to tell him of their concerns when they were starting off.
“Many of the challenges and opportunities in the field are unknown. You will not know when something new will emerge, “ the Premier said at the meeting. “If one tries to control and regulate some newly emerging products or situations that are not fully understood they can be easily destroyed.”
To counter this possibility, he stressed that the government should improve administrative capabilities.
The Premier also highlighted the need to give more support to the development of both large physical stores selling much needed products and e-commerce in rural areas. “Large e-commerce companies are rapidly developing in rural areas, which will drive employment. Farmers in some areas have almost become sales people,” he added with a smile.
Regarding concerns e-commerce may hit the business of these stores as customers buy online, the Premier said both methods of shopping will benefit each other.
“When I visited Yiwu International Trade City in Zhejiang province, I asked some businessmen whether online stores have made any impact on them. They answered that they also have their e-commerce web. They can upload videos of their shops online, so that customers can see exactly what’s on offer. The interaction between online and offline may create new opportunities. If one is afraid of competition, one will lose.’’
Other problems emerging in the development of e-commerce include cybercrime, fake goods, fraud and the invasion of privacy. These will be tackled, the Premier said, and stressed the development of healthy e-commerce. He then added that the government can only guide the development.
“E-commerce is at a crucial stage. We need to make regulations, and also give it enough development space,” he said.