China’s cross-border e-commerce thrives, delivering global dividends
China’s cross-border e-commerce has seen robust growth in recent years, injecting fresh impetus into the country’s foreign trade and delivering global dividends.
“The development of China’s cross-border e-commerce has always adhered to an innovation-driven development strategy,” said Xiao Lu, an official with the Ministry of Commerce, noting that the country has deepened its international cooperation in the sector.
Xiao made the remarks while delivering a speech at the second Global Digital Trade Expo (GDTE) in Hangzhou, the capital city of east China’s Zhejiang Province. Over 800 enterprises were invited to attend this recently concluded expo, where cutting-edge products and services were showcased, and discussions revolved around hot topics related to global digital trade.
From January to September, the scale of cross-border e-commerce imports and exports totaled 1.7 trillion yuan (about 239 billion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year expansion of 14.4 percent and accounting for 5.5 percent of the goods trade volume during the period.
Over the past five years, the share of cross-border e-commerce in China’s foreign trade has risen from less than 1 percent to about 5 percent.
The expo has provided a platform that can expedite the country’s inbound and outbound cross-border e-commerce.
Monica Zhang, head of marketing and communications at Mercado Libre China, the Chinese subsidiary of an e-commerce platform enterprise in Latin America, said that over 100 merchants had already approached the company for consultations within half a day of the expo’s opening ceremony.
Chinese commodities have gained popularity among consumers in Latin America, and the company has provided one-stop solutions for tens of thousands of Chinese sellers looking to go global, Zhang said.
At the China-ASEAN Mercantile Exchange booth, visitors were attracted by exotic products such as coffee beans from Vietnam and vanilla pods from Indonesia.
Philip Chong, the exchange’s international marketing director, said that many exhibitors from ASEAN member states hope to tap into the Chinese market, leading the exchange to build a cross-border e-commerce platform relying on the China-Singapore Nanning International Logistics Park, gathering nearly 4,000 varieties of commodities to date.
The Silk Road E-commerce (SREC) Pavilion was another highlight of this year’s GDTE, spotlighting significant achievements made in the advancement of economic and trade cooperation among belt and road participating countries.
By the end of October 2023, China had signed memorandums of understanding on SREC cooperation with 30 countries. Data shows that cross-border e-commerce imports and exports related to SREC cooperation constitute over one-third of China’s total cross-border e-commerce trade.
Chinese e-commerce platforms have cooperated proactively with BRI participating countries. In the first 10 months of this year, Alibaba’s retail sales platform imported over 66 billion yuan of commodities from SREC cooperation countries.
A durian contract-farming base in Vietnam has seen its sales in the Chinese market exceed 250 million yuan each year since it began cooperations with Freshippo, Alibaba Group’s digital intelligence-powered new retail company, and a chili contract-farming base in Rwanda has brought about a sixfold increase in the incomes of local farmers.
China has vowed to continue to accelerate its digital transformation and the development of its cross-border e-commerce, improve digital infrastructure, establish pilot zones for Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, and work with partners to launch Belt and Road e-commerce markets.
In recent years, the scale of trade between China and BRI participating countries has increased rapidly, providing a solid offline trade foundation for SREC cooperation, and China’s cross-border e-commerce technology and business model is also making progress, said Hu Qimu, deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50.
To promote the high-standard and high-quality development of SREC cooperation, efforts to promote the coordination of regulations and institutions are needed, as well as trade facilitation, Hu said.
“Cross-border e-commerce has become an important new force in foreign trade,” said Huang Xianhai, vice president of Zhejiang University, adding that digital trade is a new bright spot of global trade growth and a new engine for China’s endeavor to build itself into a strong trade nation.