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China: Trade War Will Have Little Effect on Cross-Border Ecommerce

Cross-border retail sales to grow nearly 20% in 2019


November 9, 2018 (New York, NY) – Despite looming tax changes to cross-border ecommerce goods set to go into effect in January, eMarketer expects strong demand for overseas goods in China to continue. In fact, in its latest forecast on China, eMarketer has raised its growth projections for 2019.

Next year, cross-border retail ecommerce sales in China will grow 18.5% to $144.11 billion* (998 billion RMB). This is a higher growth rate than eMarketer had projected in 2017. By 2022, sales will nearly reach the $200 billion mark. For comparison, total retail ecommerce in China will reach $1.989 trillion in 2019**.

“We don’t see the US-China trade war having a significant impact on cross-border retail ecommerce sales,” eMarketer forecasting director Shelleen Shum said.  “There will continue to be strong demand for overseas goods, often perceived as higher quality, from the growing middle class in China. The demand for such goods is already diversified across several markets and imports of key products will simply shift to markets other than the US, such as Australia and Europe.”

Much of the cross-border growth will come from business-to-consumer platforms such as Tmall Global, JD Worldwide, NetEase Kaola and Little Red Book.

There is also strong growth in the number of cross-border ecommerce buyers in China. In 2019, there will be 147.0 million, up 9.4% over 2018. By 2020, one-quarter of digital buyers in China will have made a cross-border online purchase.


*China cross-border ecommerce sales = sales of goods sold by foreign retailers by Chinese buyers.

**China retail ecommerce = sales of goods sold domestically by Chinese and overseas buyers.


eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


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Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world. eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy. eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research, including forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally. In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.


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Posted on November 8, 2018.