China Market Watch: Postponement of New Cross Border e-Commerce Regulations & Slowdown in China’s Services Sector Growth

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New Tariff Policy for Cross Border e-Commerce Likely to be Postponed

On May 10, Shanghai Securities News reported the possibility of adjustments to a new cross border e-commerce tariff policy brought into effect last month. The report suggests postponement of the new cross border e-commerce tax policies and restrictions imposed on foreign exporters for one year. During the expected transition period, cross border retailers could prepare for the changes brought by the new round of policy revision. This is the latest in a number of adjustments that have already been made to online import restrictions. Several ministries including the Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs, and the Ministry of Finance have conducted research on the effects of the policy on cross border e-commerce, inquiring with third-party online e-commerce platforms and working on changes to the current rules.

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Growth in China’s Services Sector Slows but New Orders on the Rise

China’s Caixin General Services Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI), the index for growth of China’s service sector, has reported a slowdown in growth, down 0.4 points from March with a reading of 51.8 last month (still within expansion). However, April’s data also displayed the fastest growth of new orders in the previous three months. The index covers smaller private firms, with information from around 400 companies, as opposed to the official PMI of a larger scale. Expansion in the services sector has largely been responsible for keeping China’s economic growth above 6.5 percent, though 2015’s 6.9 percent growth rate was the lowest in a quarter of a century. The first quarter of 2016 saw the slowest rate since the global financial crisis, of 6.7 percent year on year.

China’s Small Oil Refineries Boost Crude Oil Imports

The recently established China Petroleum Purchase Federation of Independent Refineries, formed by 16 smaller oil refineries, has started to buy crude oil at an astonishing rate. According to government data, oil imports into China’s eastern Shandong province, home to a majority of the country’s private oil refineries, have increased 303 percent in the first quarter, aided by the 37 percent decrease in the price of crude oil. Members of the federation have helped turn slowing crude oil imports around, increasing volume by 13.4 percent to 91.1 million tons in the first quarter, with figures from March reading the second highest recorded. The federation members are now a force in the oil market, though still small in comparison to giants such as Sinopec and PetroChina. These small scale oil refineries were previously not allowed to import crude oil, but this restriction was lifted last year when the National Development and Reform Council started to grant permits to private refineries as part of an opening up of state monopolies.

Comprehensive Resource Tax Reform to be Introduced in China Beginning on July 1, 2016

On May 9, the Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation issued the “Notice on Comprehensive Implementation of the Resource Tax Reform,” and as the name suggests, a resource tax reform will be implemented across China, with effect from July 1, 2016. The notice clarifies that it sets out to expand the scope of collection of the resource tax and carry out the pilot program of the water resource reform; implement the ad valorem collection reform of the mineral resource tax; implement comprehensive checkup of the fees/funds concerning mineral resources; determine the level of the resource tax rates reasonably; improve the administration of the preferential mineral resource tax policies; and increase the overall utilization efficiency of resources, among other things.


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