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Shipping to China: A Guide to What You Need to Know

Created on | Last updated on July 19, 2023 at 01:58 pm

As one of the world’s largest economic powers, China is an important driver for global trade and supply chains. If you are a forwarder looking to explore the Chinese market, here are some tips for shipping to China that you need to know.

According to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI), China was the world’s second economy in terms of GDP, number 1 in total exports, number 2 in total imports, number 77 economy in terms of GDP per capita, and the 28th most complex economy.

Getting to know the Chinese market

China is the second-largest global economy, the largest exporter, and has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. However, although China has one of the fastest-growing GDPs in the world, its economic growth slowed sharply to 2.3% in 2020, down from 6% in 2019, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 2019 context was already the result of a structural slowdown, as the economy moves away from an investment-driven growth model and the government implements policies to reduce financial vulnerabilities.

By 2021, growth has come back strongly to 8%. New sectors, such as e-commerce and online financial services, are gaining traction in an economy dominated by export-oriented sectors.

Thanks to its huge trade surplus in recent years, China has become the world’s largest exporter and ranks second among the world’s largest importers. Despite its strict policies, the country is quite open to foreign trade, which accounted for 35% of its GDP in 2020 (World Bank, 2022).

China’s top exports: 

  • Broadcasting Equipment;
  • Computers;
  • Integrated Circuits;
  • Office Machine Parts;
  • Other Cloth Articles.

Exporting mainly to the United States ($438 billion ), Hong Kong ($262 billion), Japan ($151 billion), Germany ($112 billion), and South Korea ($110 billion), according to Economic Complexity Index (ECI) data.

China’s main imports:

  • Crude Petroleum;
  • Integrated Circuits;
  • Iron Ore;
  • Cars;
  • Soybeans.

Importing mainly from Japan ($133 billion), South Korea ($131 billion), the United States ($122 billion), Germany ($106 billion), and Chinese Taipei ($104 billion), according to data from the Index of Economic Complexity (ICE).

What you need to know before shipping to China

China’s participation in the global supply chain is growing more and more, and with it, offering many opportunities for freight forwarders who wish to tap into the Chinese market.

However, as with any international market, China has its own set of rules and regulations on what can be imported. When shipping to China, remember that China’s customs procedures are strict and some products, such as food and cosmetics, are highly regulated.

So if you want to ensure that everything arrives intact and without unnecessary obstacles, you need to make sure you are prepared in advance.

Here is a guide to everything you need to know when preparing for shipping to China:

  1. Make sure that your item can be shipped to China. The first thing you should do before sending goods to China is to make sure that it is safe to ship. Just like things that normally cannot be shipped overseas, Chinese customs also do not allow certain items to be shipped.
  2. China’s list of restricted and prohibited items changes fairly regularly, so it is always good practice to check the official Chinese customs page before scheduling a delivery, just to be sure. 
  3. Sending an item with a prohibited entry into China will only result in delayed delivery, plus additional charges. It may even be destroyed.
  4. Ask your recipient in China in advance what additional documents or certifications may be required for the goods you are shipping. Without them, your package may be held up by customs or sent back.
  5. All information on the commercial invoice needs to be accurate, in English, and consistent with the details on the airway bill. The charges on the commercial invoice can be in any currency, usually the currency in which the transaction was made.
  6. Check in advance about any extra duties and taxes for shipping to China.

Find the right partner!

Shipping to China may seem intimidating at first, but the benefits outweigh the costs and it’s not as difficult as you might think. Use the guide above to prepare yourself before shipping to China and make sure you choose the right freight partner to make your shipment successful.

If you need partners from China, look for forwarders on Parnity, our members are ready to make new partnerships!