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China's top three e-retail export hubs identified

Guangdong, Hong Kong and Shanghai are ranked as the top three e-retail export hubs in China, says a report released on November 27 by eBay Inc.

According to the report titled 2013 Greater China Retail Export Industry Landscape, the nation's top eight e-commerce retail export hubs are, in order, Guangdong, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Beijing, Taiwan, Jiangsu and Fujian.

"Several distinct retail export hubs have emerged in Greater China as the industry continues to grow from strength to strength," says John Lin, vice-president of eBay Inc and chief executive officer of eBay Greater China.

China's eastern coastal regions continue to lead the growth in cross-border e-commerce exports, with Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangsu enjoying the fastest year-on-year growth of 76.1 percent, 56.1 percent and 52 percent respectively.

At the same time, inland regions continue to gain market presence because some coastal sellers have begun to move their operation headquarters inland. There is an increasing number of eBay sellers emerging from China's inland provinces, represented by Hubei, Hebei and Henan. EBay's sales from Hubei increased 50 percent year-on-year from June 30, 2012, to June 30, 2013.

The report, which is based on eBay's internal data and an online survey jointly conducted by eBay and Ipsos, a global market research company, showed that electronics, fashion and home and garden are the three largest e-retail export categories by gross merchandise volume in China. Computers, mobile phones, accessories, clothing, jewelry, gems and watches were the most popular items.

With Chinese government incentive policies and growing demand globally for online cross-border shopping, the Chinese e-retail export industry will continue to enjoy substantial growth momentum, says Lin.

About 52 percent of the 841 e-retailers who responded to the survey are optimistic about the business prospects for the Chinese retail export industry for the next 12 months. The majority of survey respondents plan to hire on average eight additional full-time employees in the coming 12 months.

"One of our previous reports says that cross-border e-commerce in the five major markets - the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Brazil - is expected to be worth $70 billion in 2013 and the amount is expected to double to $140 billion in 2018," Lin says.

Apart from the surging global demand, the Chinese government has also offered many incentives to boost the development of cross-border e-commerce. In an e-commerce development blueprint released by the Ministry of Commerce on Nov 21, China's exports and imports via e-commerce could amount to at least 10 percent of China's total trade.

"Cross-border e-commerce will play an increasingly important role in China's trade growth," says Cai Yudong, deputy director of the department of electronic commerce and informatization with the Ministry of Commerce.

Cai said at the unveiling of the eBay report in Beijing that China's cross-border e-commerce transactions were worth more than 2 trillion yuan ($328.2 billion; 241.8 billion euros) in 2012 and China's e-retail exports grew rapidly to $15 billion in the same year.

"About 200,000 Chinese retailers are involved in cross-border e-commerce and 90 percent of the newly registered e-retailers every year are small and medium-sized enterprises," Cai says, adding in terms of reaching overseas buyers, the threshold for online platforms is relatively low for SMEs.

He says that online platforms can help retail export enterprises in building sales channels in foreign markets and creating their own brands. "E-retail can become a new engine for China's trade growth," he adds.

Yang Yang, who sells clothes and accessories to overseas markets via eBay, says that an online platform is a better way for small retailers like him to reach potential buyers. But changing the image of Chinese-made products from low-end and cheap to high-tech and high quality is one of the biggest challenges for Chinese online retailers.

"Most foreign buyers still want to buy cheap goods when they come to us. As a matter of fact, 'Made in China' is no longer that cheap because of the rising cost of labor. We need to make them aware that there are a lot of high-value, high-quality goods that we can offer," Yang says.


(China Daily European Weekly 12/06/2013 page15)

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