China’s Cross-Border E-Commerce Policies Explained

Our partner ChemLinked has compiled the most common questions regarding China’s Cross-Border E-Commerce (CBEC) Policies in the following  9 FAQs and their answers about CBEC below.

Can companies from any countries export products through CBEC provided they are on the positive list, even if the exporting country has not previously signed a bilateral agreement with China?
It depends on what kinds of food products you want to export.For pre-packaged food, enterprises from any countries are allowed to export through CBEC as long as the products are included in the CBEC Positive list*.

However, it may not apply to fresh food such as meat, aquatic products and fruit.

According to the remarks for fresh food products and the note 1 in the Positive list, CBEC-traded fresh food can only be imported through the bonded warehouse model and they still require inspection and quarantine following what is specified in corresponding inspection & quarantine supervision administrative measures. In this case, the products should be granted market access approval.

* CBEC Positive list:

How to check if my product is included in the CBEC Positive list? For example, there is not any items named “health food”, does that mean health food cannot be imported via CBEC?
The food classification in CBEC Positive list is based on the Harmonized System (HS) Code, which is different from the common food classification method. When we check if a product is included in the Positive list, it’s necessary to confirm its food property. For example, health food has multiple dosage forms, such as beverage, candy, and wine. In the HS Code, there is not an item named “health food”, but the product may be classified as other food like beverage or wine based on its product property. In this case, health food can still be imported through CBEC.
Note 1 of the CBEC Positive list mentioned that the importation of cosmetics, infant formula, medicine, medical equipment, special foods (including health foods and FSMP) through CBEC should follow the relevant national laws and regulations, does that mean corresponding administrative approval are also mandatory?
It’s necessary to look at the context in order to answer this question.According to note 1, products included in the positive list follow the CBEC policy and the inspection & quarantine should comply with relevant laws and regulations. For products outside of this scope, the importation of cosmetics, infant formula, medicines, medical equipment, special foods (including health foods and FSMP) through CBEC should follow the relevant national laws and regulations.

As revealed by Notification on Optimizing CBEC Retail Import Supervision issued in 2018, CBEC policy only applies to pilot cities. It mean that if the products mentioned above are imported through pilot cities, then they are exempted from registration/filing or other administrative approval. However, if enterprises export products to non-pilot cities through bonded warehouse model, CBEC policy will not be applicable and product registration will still be required.

At present, 86 CBEC pilot cities* and the whole of Hainan Island are eligible for the CBEC policies.

* 86 CBEC pilot cities:

What are the differences between CBEC pilot cities and CBEC comprehensive zones?
Note: some cities are both CBEC pilot cities and comprehensive zones.105 CBEC comprehensive pilot zones:

What are the regulatory obligations for CBEC-traded products?
Because food products imported through CBEC are supervised as personal article, they are exempted from administrative approval and not required to comply with GB standards. However, this does not mean that they are free of any supervision in China. CBEC-traded products are still subject to sample inspection for the customs release, and they cannot contain prohibited ingredients, western medicine, toxic substances, contaminants etc.In Sep 10, 2020, Tmall Global released a prohibited and restricted ingredients standard for CBEC foods and cosmetics, which took effect on Sep 17, 2020.

Further reading:

For Foods:

For Cosmetics:

In addition, the official authorities will also conduct risk monitoring on CBEC products and those non-compliant products will be recalled and/or other measures taken. For example, the Barium content of a batch of red crayon made from natural soybean was found to be out of limit by the monitoring center. After verifying with the imported consumer products recall technical center, this batch of product was recalled immediately. Apart from that, a batch of feeding bottle made in USA was also found unqualified by analyzing the consumer appraisal.

What are the labeling requirements for products imported via CBEC?
According to the latest CBEC policy issued in Nov 2018*, Chinese labels are not required to be attached on the package but its e-labels should be indicated on e-commerce platforms. At present there isn’t a specific requirement for the Chinese e-labels, but ChemLinked advises it should include those items indicated in original language label.* Further reading:

In addition, CBEC enterprises are obliged to inform consumers of potential risks and indicate the risk notification on the product introduction page of e-commerce platforms. It includes that this product conforms to the standard or technical specification of quality, safety, hygiene, environmental protection and labeling in the country of origin, but they may differentiate with Chinese standard, and consumers should bear the risks.
What’s the quantity limit for CBEC trading?
There isn’t quantity limit for overseas manufacturers exporting products to China, but there is transaction limits for consumers.According to Notification of Optimizing CBEC Retail Import Tax Policy* issued in 2018, transaction limit of CBEC retail products eligible for preferential tax policy is 5000 RMB per transaction and 26,000 RMB per person per year. If the purchase amount exceeds the annual transaction limits, the transaction will be regulated as general trade which would include tariff, VAT and consumption tax to be paid.

* Further reading:

In addition, some products have purchasing limits through CBEC channel, such as rice (not exceed 20 kg per person per year), long-shaped rice (not exceed 20 kg per person per year), white granulated sugar (not exceed 20 kg per person per year), processed corn (not exceed 20 kg per person per year).
If it is possible to set up “pop up stores” for CBEC products in China mainland if products are not being sold?
According to the CBEC policy, it’s not allowed to purchase products online for subsequent pickup offline. Therefore, it is permitted to set up a “pop up store” as long as consumers do not pick up products offline and the products go through the proper CBEC regulations.
Does China’s promotion requirements/advertisement law apply to CBEC-traded products?
Advertising Law* applies to commercial promotion activities in China that merchandisers/service providers directly or indirectly introduce the products/service they offer. In principle, CBEC-traded products should comply with relevant promotion requirements if the enterprises make advertisement in China.However, in reality, even though the advertising of CBEC products violates relevant regulations, the local authority has no right to punish overseas enterprises due to jurisdiction limitations. As such, it is left up to customs authorities or market regulators to impose some sort of restrictions on future importation or market circulation. Authorities are studying this and ChemLinked believes there will be more detailed measures to address this in the future.

* Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China (2015):

Note: please copy the links above to the browser.Original Source: Chemlinked’s China’s Cross-Border E-Commerce Policies Interpretation

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