Why is Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) important for importers/exporters?
The Internet provides a direct and a more transparent channel for both buyers and sellers to conduct business via e-commerce platforms. E-commerce has enabled small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reach customers in domestic markets as well as overseas. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, an estimated 12% of global trade in physical merchandises ($2.3 trillion in 2018) -- including business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) channels -- is conducted via e-commerce, with around $700 billion being cross-border purchases. In 2018, 1.8 billion people around the world purchased goods online, and 57% of these online buyers purchased goods from sellers abroad, according to the US Congressional Research Service. With the growing use of e-commerce platforms, doing business online has become an equally critical channel for importers and exporters to establish relationships and supply chains as traditional brick-and-mortar outlets.
The US has imposed several rounds of additional tariffs on Chinese products against China’s violation of intellectual property practices under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has announced that it will open an exclusion process for the 15% additional tariff imposed on products from China on US Section 301 List 4A (Annex B on pages 27-140), which took effect 1 September 2019. This exclusion process will not cover goods on US Section 301 List 4B (Annex D on pages 147-168), which is scheduled to be implemented on 15 December 2019.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) -- officially entered into force on 30 December 2018 -- is renamed from the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the United States pulled out in March 2017. The CPTPP is set to facilitate trade among its 11 member countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam) by reducing trade barriers, increasing regulatory coherence and transparency, and lowering operating costs for businesses when exporting/importing.
Sixty days after the sixth of eleven members (in this case, Australia) ratified the pact on 30 October 2018, the CPTPP was bound to be effective. As a result, on 30 December, tariff reductions went into effect for trade among Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore, with a second round of tariff cuts happening just two days later on 1 January 2019. For the other signatories — Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile, Peru and Brunei – the CPTPP will come into force sixty days after they each ratify the agreement and tariff cuts will be in line with already-implemented reduction schedules.