China will enact a number of measures to improve the business environment at its ports and help boost cross-border trade by optimizing procedures with higher efficiency and lower costs, said senior customs officials on Thursday.
These measures aim to bring about more efficient trade facilitation and maintain stable growth of China's imports and exports, said Zhang Guangzhi, head of the National Office of Port Administration under the General Administration of Customs, during a policy briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.
The briefing came after an executive meeting of the State Council, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, resolved to ease the customs clearance process.
By Nov 1, the number of documents required for imports and exports will be cut to 48 from the current 86, Zhang said. By the end of this year, the overall clearance time for imports and exports will be cut by one-third from a year earlier, he said. An import clearance time of 65 hours is the goal, down from the current 97 and a half hours, and just over 8 hours are targeted for export clearance time from the present 12 and a half hours, he said.
Within this year, compliance costs for imports and exports will be cut from 2017 levels, Zhang said. Information and smart technology for port logistics will be improved with the single window system to be applied for 80 percent of international trade by the end of this year. All trade procedures will adopt such a method by the end of 2020, Zhang said.
Bai Shi, deputy head of the port administration, said China's single window system has more than 580,000 registered users and provides free services.
More than 120 million applications have so far been processed through this system, making it one of the most important platforms for customs clearance and international trade, Bai said.
In addition, Zhang said the State Council executive meeting resolved to substantially reduce charges and fees, and requires local authorities to disclose a list of such charges by the end of October.
Moreover, reforms in tariff guarantees and insurance will be promoted to allow goods to be released before tariffs are paid, Zhang said. "Green channels" will also be established for agricultural commodities and other perishables, he said.
In the next step, more measures will be taken to ensure the target of reducing overall clearance time by one-third, set in the Government Work Report delivered by the premier in March, he added.