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August 31, 2010

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Get ready to pay more for proxy purchases

LOCAL buyers of baby formula, cosmetics and other small items from online stores offering proxy purchase from overseas are rushing to stockpile their goods, in the face of an imminent hike in duties on items mailed from abroad.

From tomorrow, domestic customs will begin levying duty on imported postal items priced as low as 50 yuan (US$7.35). Currently, only goods priced above 400 yuan, if they are from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and above 500 yuan from other places get taxed.

Many online store owners say they will have to raise the price because of the duty.

Proxy purchase of milk formula and cosmetics from overseas is very popular in the city because of the melamine scandal and the difference in cosmetic prices between the mainland and overseas.

"We will raise our price once the new policy comes into force," said an online formula seller daidaimei, who offers proxy purchase of milk powder from the United States.

Another formula seller said he had already hoarded hundreds of cans of milk powder and will raise the price when the policy comes into effect.

A mother surnamed Wang insisted she would still opt for proxy purchase despite the likely price increase. She has already stocked up on some baby formula.

Meanwhile, online vendors selling cosmetics on, the nation's biggest e-commerce platform, have found novel ways to avoid duty by hiring airline crew to purchase duty-free goods at airports in foreign countries and bring them back as personal items in their luggage.

A seller, surnamed Huang, at one of those shops said that they had studied the new policy and found that it only targeted mailed items and didn't cover personal items carried by airline crew.


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