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Cross-border e-commerce to help foreign trade grow amid pandemic

By YUAN SHENGGAO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-12-30

An opportunity is dawning on Zhangzhou's foreign trade business.

The coastal city in Fujian province was approved by the central government to develop a State-level cross-border e-commerce pilot zone, which will be a boost to its foreign trade business that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of this year.

Zhangzhou was on the fifth list of State-level cross-border e-commerce pilot zones released by the State Council in May, along with other 45 zones across China.

The city has been a major foreign trade hub in Fujian in recent decades. It has established trade relations with 187 countries and regions throughout the world.

Boasting a coastline of 715 kilometers, the city has five major harbors for the international shipment of commodities.

Backing its foreign trade business are five State-level and eight provincial-level development zones and parks. The city is also a hub for trade between Fujian and Taiwan provinces.

The city's foreign trade volume amounted to 72.58 billion yuan ($11.1 billion) in 2019, increasing 4.6 percent year-on-year. Despite a substantial increase of 60.1 percent in imports, Zhangzhou suffered a slide in exports last year, with outbound shipments dropping 12 percent from the previous year.

The situation in exports was further hampered by sluggish global trade as a result of the pandemic.

Upon receiving approval for the pilot zone, local authorities embraced the opportunity to overcome difficulties in foreign trade. E-commerce represents a new pattern for trade that features higher efficiency in commodity transportation and customs clearance, as well as smoother communication between sellers and buyers in the context of pandemic prevention and control.

The Zhangzhou city government has released a number of incentive policies for cross-border e-commerce since May. The new policies include an implementation plan of cross-border e-commerce, which was released in July.

On July 16, the first batch of commodities for e-commerce-facilitated exports were cleared at Zhangzhou Customs and delivered to overseas destinations.

At a conference on Dec 14, the city's vice-mayor Zhang Yiteng called for joint efforts among governments, customs, e-commerce platforms and traders to promote the in-depth development of cross-border e-commerce.

The construction of cross-border e-commerce-related facilities is progressing smoothly. Ongoing projects include a cross-border e-commerce exhibition center, a market regulating and administrative service center, core industrial parks, major platforms and a bonded logistics center.

In addition to cross-border e-commerce, Zhangzhou authorities have released other measures to boost and stabilize foreign trade.

The measures include subsidizing exports of commodities relating to pandemic control and prevention, helping local companies attend various trade fairs and offering financial assistance to small and micro-sized businesses.

Statistics from Zhangzhou Customs show the city's foreign trade volume amounted to 64.04 billion yuan in the first 10 months of this year, growing 6.7 percent from the same period last year.

Its exports reached 41.31 billion yuan during that period, growing 6.6 percent year-on-year. The growth rate ranked Zhangzhou third among all cities in Fujian province.


Representatives of local foreign trade companies attend a training class on cross-border e-commerce.

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