China is aiming to almost double the value of its e-commerce sector in two years by tapping potential in rural regions, small cities and abroad, under an action plan published by the Ministry of Commerce on May 15.
The ministry promised measures to help e-commerce businesses make further forays into these relatively unexplored markets, as well as encouragement of cross-border trade through better coordination between online platforms and brick-and-mortar stores.
With these measures, the ministry predicted the country’s 2016 e-commerce transactions will hit 22 trillion yuan ($3.6 trillion US), almost double the 13.4 trillion yuan recorded for 2014.
The ministry is also aiming to lift the value of online retail sales, referring specifically to those through third-party online marketplaces like Taobao, to 5.5 trillion yuan by the end of 2016. The figure would also nearly double the 2.8 trillion yuan recorded in 2014.
To achieve these goals, the ministry said it would first “nurture 200 counties to lead e-commerce development in rural regions” by encouraging them to sell farm produce online. It will also support e-commerce companies to establish bases and sales channels in the countryside.
The ministry also plans to set up 60 national-level e-commerce demonstration parks and establish “150 e-commerce companies with strong competitiveness”, meaning larger firms demonstrating best practice.
According to the plan, it will also place equal emphasis on development of logistics firms, and work with other government departments to improve infrastructure and distribution networks in order to facilitate the e-commerce sector’s expansion.
“The action plan is important for optimizing production, expanding employment, boosting employment, and improving people’s lives,” according to a statement on the ministry’s website.