SHANGHAI – China’s border inspectors and customs authorities said Thursday that they will streamline clearance for products to be sold within the Shanghai free trade zone, the latest of a string of measures to encourage cross-border e-commerce to resuscitate tumbling trade growth.
The streamlined process would shorten the time between products’ arrival at the port to beingput on the shelves in the FTZ by up to 80 percent.
China’s foreign trade growth came in way below the 7.5 percent target set for last year andlatest official data also show trade slumping 7.8 percent during the first five months this yearfrom the same period a year ago.
Speedier customs clearance is particularly important for farm produce, meat and fisheryproducts as they have shorter shelf life and require more sophisticated and costlier storage tostay fresh.
Authorities also gave the greenlight on Thursday to allow companies in the FTZ to sellimported fresh products such as fruits and meat.
Imported seafood, wines, fruits and other fresh food sold at the store in Shanghai FTZ have been popular and were often sold out last year, as Chinese consumers are showing a growing appetite for what they see as quality products from countries like United States and Japan.
Authorities added that the speed of clearance will be based on the origin country’s quality safety record and the company’s quality control, meaning that importers with stringent quality control will move faster.
Shanghai customs will allow importers to deliver samples to be screened by air before the whole shipment arrives by sea, to shorten the time for clearance.
The process was used earlier this month to clear a batch of milk powder from Ireland, whichwas put on sale in the FTZ 11 days after reporting to customs, compared with 55 days before.
Cross-border sales have grown tenfold in the past four years in China to 20 billion dollars lastyear, according to research firm eMarketers. China’s Ministry of Commerce has predicted sales through cross-border e-commerce to hit 1 trillion next year and will eventually take up one fifth of the country’s total trade volume.