China Cancels Foreign Trade Operator Registration, Simplifying Import and Export Procedures

China has amended the Foreign Trade Law to simplify registration procedures for foreign trade operators. From now on, companies and individuals no longer need to undergo registration and filing with local commerce authorities and will automatically obtain the right to import and export products to and from China. We explain the latest changes, what requirements are still in place for foreign trade operators, and how this may affect China foreign trade.

On December 30, 2022, the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed an amendment to China’s Foreign Trade Law, which abolished the requirement for certain filing and registration procedures for foreign trade operators, according to an announcement from China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

According to the MOFCOM announcement, from December 30, 2022 onward, local commerce authorities have ceased handling the registration of foreign trade operators. This means that companies applying for import and export licenses, technology import and export contract registration certificates, quotas, state trade qualifications, and other relevant certificates and qualifications, will no longer be required to provide foreign trade operator filing and registration materials.

This marks a major reform to foreign trade management and is an important step in promoting trade liberalization and facilitation, according to the announcement. It will also help to further optimize the business environment, leverage the growth potential of foreign trade, and promote high-quality trade development and further opening to the outside world.

The filing and registration procedures had been in place since 2004. However, in 2019, the NPC authorized the State Council to temporarily suspend Article 9 of the Foreign Trade Law for a trial period of three years. According to MOFCOM spokesperson Shu Jueting said in a press interview that, upon assessment of this three-year trial, “we believe that the conditions and time are ripe for canceling the registration of foreign trade operators nationwide”.

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