City to lift Silk Road trade

Updated: Nov 16, 2023 By WANG YING in Shanghai China Daily Print
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Cabinet approval for Shanghai pilot zone to boost e-commerce biz

Shanghai is looking to nurture a batch of e-commerce operators with international influence by 2025 as the city gears up to explore Silk Road e-commerce cooperation by aligning with international trade agreements including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), according to official sources.

By 2025, Shanghai seeks to attract a set of e-commerce business entities with global competitiveness, set regional vehicles with respective characteristics and have public service platforms promoting Silk Road e-commerce, to provide outcome support and practical experience for the development of Silk Road e-commerce, said Zhang Xiong, deputy secretary-general of the Shanghai municipal government during a news conference held in Shanghai on Tuesday.

The State Council approved establishing a pilot zone for Silk Road e-commerce cooperation in East China's Shanghai, according to the council's official website, citing a circular released on Oct 23.

The circular urged the metropolis to exert a pioneering role in making breakthroughs in reform and opening-up, aligning with high-standard international economic and trade rules and exploring institutional innovation.

The pilot zone is expected to boost the high-quality cooperation development of the Belt and Road Initiative. More efforts will be made to expand opening-up in the e-commerce sector and build a new hub for international cooperation for the digital economy.

From short video platform Douyin and Chinese online discounter Pinduoduo, to global fashion marketplace Shein, apps made by Chinese developers are among the world's top 1,000 applications, whose downloads nearly doubled over the past decade, according to a report from US search giant Google.

The plan approved by the State Council prioritizes institutional opening-up and the cultivation of entities and cooperation mechanisms. Shanghai will accelerate its alignment with international high-standard economic and trade rules, explore institutional innovations and expand opening-up in e-commerce, Zhang said.

A total of 19 tasks on expanding e-commerce opening-up, creating a pilot environment and vigorously promoting international and regional exchanges and cooperation will be carried out to achieve the targets, the plan showed.

"As the nation's largest economic center, Shanghai is a strategic city in realizing the goals of the nation, and a center of reform and opening-up," said Zhang.

With continuous optimization in its transportation systems for sea, land, air and rail, Shanghai has established its strength as a shipping hub. The port of Shanghai has held the title of the world's busiest container port for 13 consecutive years, and the city's two airports ranked third in terms of cargo throughput for 15 years in a row. Since the first China-Europe Railway Express started in Shanghai two years ago, some 150 China-Europe freight trains have departed the city for European cities, Zhang said.

Shanghai has formed evident advantages in the e-commerce ecosystem. Express deliveries between Shanghai and destinations beyond the Chinese mainland reached 170 million units in 2022, up 8.5 percent year-on-year, accounting for 8.2 percent of the nation's total, Zhang added.

Being one of the nation's first batches of e-commerce demonstration cities and cross-border e-commerce pilot cities, Shanghai saw its e-commerce transaction volume reach 3.33 trillion yuan ($456.7 billion) in 2022, said Zhou Lan, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

Zhou said the city is currently home to nine e-commerce platforms, each with a business scale above 100 billion yuan, and 17 platforms sized at some 10 billion yuan each.

The cross-border e-commerce trade volume of Shanghai surged 38.6 percent year-on-year to reach 184.1 billion yuan last year. The trend continued at an accelerated pace of 60 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of this year, Zhou said.

"The rapid development of e-commerce in Shanghai has laid a solid foundation for cooperation between China and its partner countries. Shanghai's setting up of a pilot zone for Silk Road e-commerce cooperation will create more space for further and better cooperation," said Zhou.

The market scale of Shanghai also put the city in an advantageous position for its development of a Silk Road e-commerce cooperation pilot zone.

"The Yangtze River Delta region is one of China's most vigorous regions with the highest level of opening-up and creative capabilities," Zhang said.

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