SCIO briefing on the progress of Hainan Free Trade Port policies

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Red Star News:

Since July 1, 2020, new policies on duty-free shopping for travelers leaving Hainan Island have aroused a great deal of public interest, increasing the public's enthusiasm for tourism and shopping in Hainan. Since Feb 2, 2021, two new pick-up methods have been added: delivery by post and pick-up on the island. This has facilitated the shopping experience for travelers but has also further increased the regulatory pressure on customs. What are the considerations in preventing the purchase and resale of duty-free goods on the mainland (known as "tao daigou")? Thank you.

Zhang Jiwen:

Thank you for your question. The GACC resolutely implements the instructions given by General Secretary Xi Jinping on the construction of the Hainan FTP and the decisions and plans made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We are actively exercising our functions, strengthening supervision, and improving our service to fully support the construction of the Hainan FTP.

Policies on duty-free shopping for travelers leaving Hainan Island is one of the major achievements in the initial stage of the construction of the Hainan FTP. Starting from July 1 of last year, Hainan increased its annual tax-free shopping quota from 30,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan, expanding the range of duty-free goods from 38 to 45 categories. To ensure the smooth implementation of these new policies, customs are actively participating in timely policy creation and the adjustment of clearance procedures according to the new annual quota and categories. We also created targeted regulations based on their supervision and updated the customs' information management system. All of these efforts effectively guaranteed the implementation of new policies.

Implementation of new policies has greatly promoted Hainan to build itself into an international tourism consumption center and boosted growth in Hainan's foreign trade. Data from customs show that, between July 1, 2020, and April 6, 2021, Hainan reported duty-free sales of 34.7 billion yuan, up 244% from the same period last year. Duty-free shops in Hainan received 4.96 million customers and sold 43.26 million products during the same period, up 215% and 101% year on year, respectively. It is obvious that stimulus in consumption was brought about by preferential policies. On Feb 2, 2021, to make it more convenient for travelers to shop and maximize policy effects, methods were added for duty-free shoppers leaving Hainan Island, allowing them to pick up goods through delivery by post and after their return to Hainan Island. Customs attaches great importance to the new policies and on Feb 3, we published the Announcement on Issuing the Supervisory Requirements for the Methods of Picking up Goods through Delivery by Post and after Return to Hainan Island for the Duty-free Shopping of Travelers Leaving Hainan Island, clarifying the specific requirements for supervision. In the meantime, we will work actively to publicize and explain the supervision methods of customs. From Feb 3 to April 6, Hainan's offshore duty-free companies reported 400-million-yuan's worth in duty-free shopping sales via delivery by post, involving 100,000 customers and 530,000 products. They also accepted applications from the island's residents to pick up products after return to Hainan island, involving 2,216 duty-free products worth 2.62 million yuan purchased by 406 travelers.

We continue to improve and update the regulatory models and facilitate our services. In the meantime, we will crack down on illegal smuggling activities, such as "tao daigou," which exploit duty-free shopping policies. Customs has always taken strict measures to crack down on such practices by solving major crimes and dismantling smuggling gangs and networks. This has helped to ensure the stable and orderly implementation of policies for duty-free shopping and protected the legitimate rights and interests of most travelers.

In the past two years or so, Haikou Customs, under the guidance of the GACC, has carried out 11 rounds of special campaigns against smuggling through offshore duty-free channels. A total of 66 smuggling gangs were eliminated, involving cases worth about 200 million yuan. From July 2020 to now, more than 8,000 people who violated offshore duty-free shopping regulations were banned from enjoying the duty-free policies for three years. At the same time, in order to fully leverage the advantages of regional collaboration, Zhanjiang Customs and Haikou Customs have carried out joint operations against smuggling through offshore duty-free channels since January. So far, four rounds of joint campaigns against smuggling activities have been carried out and five criminal cases have been filed, involving illegal goods worth 26.84 million yuan.

In the next step, by adhering to the premise that opening-up can only serve its purpose when supported with enhanced oversight, customs will continue to make targeted crackdowns on various smuggling crimes during the construction of the Hainan FTP. Through these measures, we will ensure that the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council can be implemented to support the healthy development of the Hainan FTP. Thank you.

Cover News:

Since the release of the master plan, how are the relevant policies issued by the Ministry of Finance working out? What are your considerations in expanding the range of duty-free products in the future? Thank you.

Zou Jiayi:

Thank you for your questions. I just introduced that nine of the 12 fiscal and tax policies have so far been implemented. These nine policies, which have been in place for a significant amount of time, have achieved remarkable progress so far. The other policies, which were implemented more recently, are so far paying off and their effects will become clearer with time.

The policies yielding remarkable results include the offshore duty-free policy we repeatedly mentioned just now. The policy took effect on July 1 last year and duty-free sales had already exceeded 30 billion yuan by the end of March, registering a growth rate more than double that of the previous year. Sales under the supervision of the General Administration of Customs, as Mr. Zhang Jiwen just described, reached 34.7 billion yuan, with both the number of shopping trips and the quota for per capita shopping increasing significantly year-on-year. In June last year, I also introduced Hainan's offshore duty-free policy. At that time, journalists said that I was live-streaming e-commerce for Hainan. Now it seems that they no longer need me to do so. As Mr. Shen Xiaoming said, sales of offshore duty-free goods are expected to exceed 60 billion yuan this year. As the Chinese saying goes: peaches and plums, without speaking, form a path under them. The policy has indeed played a role in attracting visitors to Hainan, which stimulated the vitality of local tourism, the consumption market and promoted the development of related industries. In addition, the preferential policies for enterprise income tax and individual income tax that have been in place since Jan 1, 2020, reduced the tax burden of enterprises and attracted high-end talents to Hainan when they were in short supply. The number of new market players in Hainan has increased rapidly and all kinds of talents have continued to come to Hainan.

Additionally, policies that have been implemented for a relatively short time are slowly seeing benefits. For example, since the zero-tariff policies for raw and auxiliary materials, vehicles and yachts, and equipment for enterprises' use were adopted starting last November, the value of goods from these preferential policies has reached nearly 900 million yuan, while tax exemptions have exceeded 100 million yuan, effectively reducing the import cost of enterprises. I believe, with the steady implementation of these policies, more market players will benefit and the positive effects of these policies will further be unleashed.

On the whole, the adoption of the above fiscal and tax policies has delivered notable progress, boosted the confidence across all sectors involved in the construction of the Hainan FTP, and attracted more people, logistics, and funds to Hainan, laying a good foundation for the smooth start of the Hainan FTP construction.

The journalist also asked what are the future considerations in expanding the categories of duty-free goods? Nine of the 12 fiscal and tax policies just mentioned have been adopted and the other three policies are yet to be adopted. Next, we will step up efforts to speed up the adoption of the three policies: the zero-tariff policy for imported goods purchased by island residents, the duty-free policy for overseas exhibits at the China International Consumer Goods Expo to be held from May 7 to 10 in Hainan, and the policy to allow flights in and out of Hainan to refuel with bonded aviation fuel. We will work for the adoption of these three policies as soon as possible and closely follow the implementation of the nine policies that have already been adopted, assessing their effects promptly and make dynamic adjustments and improvements. Regarding the zero-tariff policies for list management, in particular, we will continue to expand the positive list categories and narrow the negative list categories to promote the steady progress of the Hainan FTP construction. Thank you.

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