As a major transport hub and economic center in western China, Chengdu in Sichuan province is striving to integrate into the dual circulation development pattern by boosting foreign trade and domestic consumption.
From January to September this year, the value of Chengdu's imports and exports reached 523.15 billion yuan ($78.79 billion), up 25.3 percent year-on-year.
Cross-border e-commerce has played a key role in helping Chengdu expand into the international market.
Li Hua, deputy general manager of Chengdu Ito Yokado E-Commerce, said that cross-border e-commerce not only brings more Japanese goods and services to consumers in the city, but also helps Chengdu-made products to be sold to Japan.
Japanese department store Ito Yokado entered the Chengdu market 20 years ago. In April 2017, Ito Yokado E-Commerce was registered in the city's high-tech pilot free trade zone.
Chengdu International Finance Square, a landmark shopping complex in downtown Chengdu, houses a great number of fashion brands.
"Ito Yokado E-Commerce went online for trial operation in January 2018. On Aug 31 of the same year, the Ito Yokado E-Commerce business, which is mainly based on Ito home and cross-border, was fully launched," Li said.
Li said the company obtained a Internet Content Provider license in January 2019, and was the first in the Sichuan Pilot Free Trade Zone.
On Oct 30, six cross-border e-commerce companies－including the China headquarters of the Spanish BCN International Mesotherapy Institute, Chengdu Sihai Tongda Technology and Sichuan Chengping Supply Chain Management－signed a contract to settle in the Chengdu Global Cross-Border E-commerce Service Resource Center.
Sichuan Chengping Supply Chain Management, which focuses on providing services such as bonded warehousing, logistics, customs clearance, and supply chain finance, has added new momentum into the development of Chengdu's cross-border e-commerce supply chain.
The company has signed an investment agreement with the city's Qingbaijiang district. A 2,500-square-meter bonded warehouse of the comprehensive bonded zone is expected to be opened at the end of the year.
The Shuangliu Comprehensive Bonded Zone is a major facility in Chengdu to promote an exported-oriented economy.
The company plans to expand supply chain finance, cross-border e-commerce export and other new businesses in 2021. It also plans to open up a two-way channel for import and export, and is committed to building a high-quality platform for Sichuan goods to go global.
In 2018, Chengdu issued a three-year action plan to accelerate the development of cross-border e-commerce. It set a goal of achieving a cross-border e-commerce transaction volume of more than 40 billion yuan by 2020, which attracted more than 10,000 cross-border e-commerce service companies.
In May, the city government rolled out an action plan for 2020-22 to promote foreign investment, foreign trade and stable development.
According to the plan, Chengdu will encourage more cross-border e-commerce, support cross-boundary investment, and streamline and standardize operations in transnational consumption.
Businesses operating under new models will receive government financial support in construction, housing and staffing.
A new scheduled train service linking with Europe and focusing on cross-border e-commerce and market procurement trade is launched in Chengdu's Jinniu district.
From January to September this year, the scale of cross-border e-commerce transactions in Chengdu reached 30.32 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 100.98 percent. The scale of cross-border e-commerce transactions in Chengdu has maintained a growth rate of more than 100 percent for four consecutive years.
Another engine in Chengdu's economy is the market procurement trade, a new form of foreign trade that is strongly supported by the country. The General Administration of Customs and seven other ministries and commissions decided to launch a pilot program in Chengdu International Trade City on Sept 28, 2018.
The method of market procurement trade refers to the goods purchased by qualified operators in the market agglomeration area recognized by the national commerce department. The value of a single-ticket declaration form is less than $150,000 and the export is handled at the place of purchase.
"The pilot market procurement trade has simplified the customs clearance process for enterprises and realized trade assistance," said Huang Junxiang, general manager of the Chengdu Zhongyu Daoyang Trading.
"With online customs declaration, enterprises only need to spend two or three minutes offline. It only takes a few minutes to submit the bills, but in the past, it might take a day to complete these processes."
"As the first pilot market procurement trade method in the western region, this is of great significance to 'made in Sichuan' products going global," said Yang Jianmin, director of the market procurement trade service center in Jinniu district, Chengdu.
The Chengdu market procurement trade has better tax policies and export customs clearance, with faster, more flexible foreign exchange management and lower entry barriers.
As of September, Chengdu's market procurement trade method had completed a trial of market procurement declaration and exported 9,493 orders, at a value of 3.83 billion yuan. It has completed the registration of more than 6,500 pilot entities and exported tens of thousands of commodities to countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Chengdu is also taking multiple measures to promote consumption.
On Nov 9, Chengdu issued a batch of vouchers for online shopping and e-commerce retail, spanning China's annual Nov 11 and Dec 12 shopping festivals. Some 150 million yuan will be allocated for the subsidy.
The profits of online platforms and offline businesses are expected to exceed 600 million yuan.
Under the effects of the pandemic, Chengdu issued the first phase of consumer coupons in early May, which played a positive role in boosting consumption.
According to the circulation department of Chengdu bureau of commerce, the first stage of coupons attracted more than 30,000 merchants in the city. A total of 1.66 million consumer coupon packages were issued, which drove consumption worth more than 7 billion yuan.
From January to September, Chengdu achieved a total e-commerce transaction volume of 1.65 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 3.88 percent. Online retail sales amounted to 281.27 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11.74 percent.
To further boost consumption, Chengdu is attempting to attract new brands to settle.
In 2019, the city introduced 473 brands, the growth rate of which was recorded at 136.5 percent year-on-year. From January to September this year, another 227 brands settled in Chengdu.
Faced with the pandemic this year, Chengdu has carried out new actions to boost domestic demand, carried out a series of consumption promotion activities such as the "Good Life" Autumn Shopping Festival and Chengdu Food Festival.
Statistics show that in the first three quarters of this year in Chengdu, the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 569.18 billion yuan, down 4.7 percent year-on-year.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)
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