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China’s plan for e-commerce in 5 years’ time

by Robynne Tindall
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On 26 October, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) jointly released a plan for e-commerce development during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025)

The scale and penetration rate of e-commerce in China is already astonishing, and this plan aims to push it to new heights. According to the plan, the volume of e-commerce transactions in China reached RMB 37.2 trillion (£4.2 billion) in 2020 and is expected to reach RMB 46 trillion (£5.2 billion) by 2025. E-commerce related employment is expected to reach 70 million by 2025, as e-commerce is further integrated with primary, secondary and tertiary industries across the country.

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The key aspects of the plan focus on enlarging and regulating cross-border e-commerce, encouraging sustainability and eco-friendly growth, new consumption scenarios (such as so-called ‘phygital’ retail) and enabling the expansion of e-commerce in more remote areas to support rural revitalisation. Some specific policy plans are described below:

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  • Deepen the coordinated development of e-commerce and delivery networks.
  • Support the opening of free trade zones and ports, a national digital economy innovative development trial zone, cross-border e-commerce comprehensive zones and other pilot projects.
  • Increase the sustainability and ‘green operation’ of e-commerce enterprises, including increasing the application and promotion of energy-efficiency technology and equipment, upgrading data centres and warehouse hardware and advancing the reduction of carbon emissions.
  • Stimulate the development and regulation of second-hand e-commerce (including platforms such as Idle Fish and Zhuan Zhuan) to promote the recycling and re-use of resources.
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  • Set up more comprehensive standards for eco-friendly packaging and accelerate the implementation of an eco-friendly packaging product certification system.
  • Support the application and implementation of 5G, augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D printing and other new technologies into consumption scenarios to speed up the digital transformation of enterprises and improve both offline and online shopping experiences.
  • Actively develop smart community, smart shopping areas, smart gym construction; encourage innovation of business models and upgrade of the food delivery, parcel storage cabinet deployment.
  • Support Chinese brands in “going global” (品牌出海) and expand overseas payment settlements in RMB currency.

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