Guangdong Province has surpassed neighboring Hong Kong to become China's top retail export hub in terms of export value, e-commerce platform eBay Inc said in a report published Wednesday.
Although Hong Kong enjoys a duty-free policy, Guangdong has outpaced its neighbor thanks to its advantages in manufacturing, logistics networks and e-commerce labor resources, said the report, which was based on export values in the 12 months to June 30.
The country's top eight retail export hubs are mainly located in eastern and southern regions, with Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces recording the fastest growth, according to the report, which also showed electronics, fashion, and home and garden products are the three largest retail export categories in China.
"The retail export sector has the potential to become a new growth engine for foreign trade," Cai Yudong, deputy director of the Department of Electronic Commerce and Informatization under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). told a media briefing held in Beijing on Wednesday.
There are more than 5,000 cross-border e-commerce platforms in China, and over 200,000 domestic exporters have conducted business through these platforms, generating transaction revenue of around 2 trillion yuan ($330 billion) in 2012, according to Cai.
There is still uncertainty regarding the external environment, but according to an online survey of 841 China-based retail exporters conducted by eBay from September 12 to October 8, 52 percent of them expressed optimism about their business prospects in the next 12 months.
The survey found that respondents in Hong Kong and Taiwan care about brand building, payment safety and logistics solutions, but their mainland counterparts are more concerned about policy support such as increasing customs clearance efficiency, and facilitating export tax rebates and foreign exchange settlement.
"We aim to create a favorable environment for retail export firms, as well as supporting them in building sales channels in foreign markets, creating their own brands, and elevating their management and services," Cai said.
MOFCOM released a batch of measures in August to boost e-commerce retail exports and selected five pilot cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chongqing to implement them starting from October 1.
"The recent incentive policies will boost the development of cross-border e-commerce, which serves as a cost-efficient channel for small and medium-sized exporters to reach global buyers," Lin Ya, secretary-general of the Beijing Electronic Commerce Association, said at the briefing.
"MOFCOM's move will benefit export-oriented e-commerce platforms such as eBay and lightinthebox.com," Zhang Zhouping, an analyst at China e-Business Research Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"However, exporters are still waiting for detailed policies to simplify customs clearance processes, lower clearance costs and facilitate cross-border payment," he said.
"We will continue to focus on developing retail export businesses in China, but it does not mean that we will give up the fast-growing domestic online retail market," John Lin, vice president of eBay, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
The just-concluded Singles' Day promotion period around November 11 saw record online sales revenue, with taobao.com and tmall.com achieving total sales of 35 billion yuan.
"Currently over 200 retailers in the US have launched e-commerce businesses on eBay and they all intend to expand into China," Lin noted.
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