China is pushing forward efforts to institute a law to regulate the country's booming e-commerce sector, the head of the country's commerce regulator said on Monday.
The country’s regulatory regime fore-commerce remains insufficient, and ramped-up efforts in improving the legalaspects of the e-commerce industry have been underway, Zhang Mao, head of theState Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), told a news conferenceduring the ongoing two sessions.
Zhang did not disclose a timetable forwhen the law will be drafted.
To strengthen the oversight of thecountry’s e-commerce market, the SAIC announced a set of administrativemeasures for online transactions which came into effect on March 15, 2014.Legislation regarding e-commerce, however, has yet to come into legalexistence.
“Behind the absence of the e-commercelaw lie concerns that the lawmaking might put restraints on the e-commercearena,” Zhang Zhouping, a senior analyst at China E-Commerce Research Center,told the Global Times on Monday.
But the effective regulation of thee-commerce space which has contributed to the economy’s rebalancing but hascaused problems such as sales of counterfeit goods has increasingly become anissue, the analyst said, estimating that the e-commerce law is likely to beintroduced in the second half of the year.
Addressing the problem of fake goods,Zhang at SAIC stated that while the problem also exists in off-line sales, ithas appeared to be a particular concern for the fast-growing onlineshopping.
In 2014, online sales of consumer goodssoared 49.7 percent from the year before, accounting for 10.63 percent of thetotal retail sales of social consumer goods last year, data from the NationalBureau of Statistics showed. The growth rate of online sales also greatlyoutperformed a rise of 10.9 percent year-on-year in the total retail sales in2014.
The cost of breaking the regulations isstill too low, Zhang at SAIC remarked, noting that if the cost is hiked to anextent that makes violating enterprises unable to afford the penalties forselling fake products, knockoffs will gradually disappear in the market.
He also urged third-party e-commerceplatforms to be responsible for regulating merchants on the platforms.
An accountability mechanism should beestablished across the e-commerce sector that forces e-commerce platformoperators to take responsibility for online shopping fraud, according to ZhangJindong, chairman of household appliance retailer Suning Commerce Group Co.
Zhang Jindong, also a member of theNational Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,has already submitted the proposal concerning the creation of theaccountability mechanism to the country’s top political advisory body, amanager at Suning who declined to be named told the Global Times on Monday.