The United States became China's biggest online exporter in 2014, in particular for education, healthcare and food products, according to a report released in Beijing on Tuesday.
More Chinese choose US website for online shopping than ever
Chinese consumers made 18 times more purchases from the US than from other countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada last year, according to the 2015 China Cross-border Consumption Annual Index Report, jointly produced by Visa Inc and Economic Information Daily.
Although the report does not provide figures for e-commerce trade, it said the popular online sales seasons in the US for Chinese buyers are around Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving Day), Christmas, New Year's Day and other national holidays.
Yu Xueli, general manager of Visa China, said the US has a well-developed IT infrastructure, business environment and logistics network, as well as strict regulations to prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods, making it attractive to Chinese buyers.
"The busy season for Chinese consumers was between September and December. Online department stores, branding shops, and airline websites are their favorite shopping places," said Yu.
China became the world's largest e-commerce market in 2013, and cross-border e-commerce in China surged by 44 percent year-on-year to 449.2 billion yuan ($72.33 billion) last year, according to the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing. This figure represents 15 percent of China's foreign trade.
In 2014 the country bought 129 billion yuan of foreign goods via online trading platforms, up 60 percent from the previous year.
As an emerging and rapidly growing segment in China, cross-border online shopping is commonly known as haitao, a Chinese word for domestic consumers shopping overseas or paying for third parties to buy products and ship them to China.
Geng Xiaoyan, 33, a marketing specialist in Shanghai, defines herself as "a heavy user" of overseas online shopping. She says that for daily recreation she browses through all kinds of overseas shopping websites or smartphone applications.
"As a large number of overseas shopping platforms are able to deliver international shipping nowadays, I can shop everything you name on these platforms, from home appliances to all my shoes and clothes," she said.
But the major consumer at her home is her 4-year-old son. Everything he uses now, from shampoo to body lotion, underwear, toothpaste, toothbrushes, healthy food, books, and toys are all bought from overseas websites. Geng said the high safety standards of the products she buys her son is her main reason for choosing these platforms.
Zhang Li, deputy director of the e-commerce research department at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said China's online purchases of educational products, including education websites, books, intelligent development toys and physical education products, have become another new market growth point to diversify China-US trade since last year.
The Ministry of Commerce forecasts annual growth in China's cross-border e-commerce market at 30 percent for 2016.
The report also said that the growth of cross-border e-commerce trading activities between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong dropped in 2014.
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