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China's raising the limit on cross-border online purchases, as well as expanding its list of duty-free goods starting January 1, 2019, according to a statement by the Ministry of Finance on Friday.|
The annual quota on cross-border e-commerce purchases for individual buyers will be raised from 20,000 to 26,000 yuan (about 3,768 U.S. dollars). The limit on a single transaction will also be raised from 2,000 to 5,000 yuan.
Meanwhile, some 63 categories of products will be added to the duty-free list, covering consumer goods such as beers, electronics and healthcare products.
The announcement is part of the country's opening-up efforts to expand imports and upgrade domestic industries, aiming to meet the ever-growing needs of its people.
This July, China identified 22 cities as venues for comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones in an effort to boost cross-border e-commerce. The new policy will be applied to these cities.
The move also echoed China's tariff reduction and customs clearance efforts. On November 1, the country cut tariffs on 1,585 items of imported goods. This September, China's custom administration also announced new measures to expedite cargo clearance and cut administrative charges to facilitate foreign trade.
The first China International Import Expo (CIIE) held in Shanghai this November also fully demonstrated the country's efforts to boost imports and enhance business cooperation.
The e-commerce law aimed at regulating the market will also take effect on January 1 next year.
Chinese consumers shopping for foreign brands online
Chinese consumers have become increasingly drawn to foreign brands via e-commerce platforms. Statistics showed that the retail imports of cross-border e-commerce from January to October this year reached 67.2 billion yuan (about 9.7 billion U.S. dollars), up 53.7 percent year-on-year.
In 2017, cross-border e-commerce consumers accounted for 10.2 percent of China's total e-commerce consumers, up from 1.6 percent in 2014, according to a report on China's import market jointly released by China Chamber of International Commerce, global auditing and consultancy firm Deloitte, and Alibaba's Aliresearch.
"The new policies will not only make cross-border trade more convenient, but also meet consumers' upgraded needs and improve regulation and supervision of cross-border e-commerce imports," said Wang Jian, a professor with the University of International Business and Economics.