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Govt draws up blueprint for e-commerce development

Updated: 2013-11-23 10:13
By Meng Jing ( China Daily)

China will further boost the development of e-commerce, aiming to bring online retail sales up to 10 percent of the country's total retail sales by 2015, according to guidelines released by the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday.

Total e-commerce transactions in China, including retail sales, are expected to exceed 18 trillion yuan ($2.95 trillion) by 2015.

By that year, exports and imports via e-commerce could amount to at least 10 percent of China's total trade, the ministry has forecast.

E-commerce has proven itself to be a new powerhouse for the nation's economic growth. According to the Hangzhou-based China e-Business Research Center, online retail transactions accounted for 6.8 percent of all retail sales, reaching 754.2 billion yuan in the first half of this year.

Govt draws up blueprint for e-commerce development

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Taobao headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Nov 11. Alibaba has 9 million online retailers and their business has created at least 10 million jobs, according to Jack Ma, the company's founder. [Photo/China Daily]

China will expand the use of e-commerce with a focus on key areas including retail, cross-border trade, agricultural products and the service sector.

The Commerce Ministry will offer policy and financial support to encourage more manufacturers and companies to engage in cross-border e-commerce, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.

Domestic e-commerce companies are encouraged to "go global" by setting up overseas agencies and improving offshore warehouse and logistics services.

The ministry said that the development of e-commerce should be "market-oriented" with some "push from the government".

At the same time, it urged local authorities to offer more support to help develop e-commerce, including attracting more private capital into the sector.

Analysts said that the guidelines from the ministry send a positive signal that the government values this part of the new economy, which has a strong focus on innovation and efficiency.

"The guidelines will give a shot of confidence to the entire e-commerce sector in China," said Mao Ajing, an e-commerce analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

According to media reports, Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the importance of the new economy and vowed that "extensive and deeper reforms" would be made, when he met with a group of entrepreneurs earlier this month.

Among that group was Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's founder Jack Ma, who told Li that the company has 9 million online retailers and their business has created at least 10 million jobs.

"We ought to place a high emphasis on an innovative economy so China's economy can progress on a steady and sustainable course," Li said.

"The total size of e-commerce in China in 2012 was about 8 trillion yuan. The goals set by the Ministry of Commerce can be easily achieved if China's e-commerce sector maintains its current growth momentum," said Mao.

She said that although the ministry's guidelines are a positive step, they won't yield any immediate changes.

Lu Zhenwang, an independent Internet expert and the chief executive officer of the Shanghai-based e-commerce firm Wanqing Consultancy, agreed with Mao, saying that the influence of the guidelines will be limited as the e-commerce sector is strongly based on market demand.

"With or without policy support, there are already strong players in this sector. But if we look at from the other side, the guidelines are also a warning to brick-and-mortar outlets, which need to better prepare themselves in the era of the Internet," he said.