Rejoice, Alibaba: Chinese policymakers eye e-commerce as linchpin of growth

Packages at a hub of Shentong Express delivery company in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, on Nov 11, 2014. China's state media has pointed to the US$9.3 billion (S$11.63 billion) worth of goods bought on Nov 11, the annual online shopping day known as Si
Packages at a hub of Shentong Express delivery company in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, on Nov 11, 2014. China's state media has pointed to the US$9.3 billion (S$11.63 billion) worth of goods bought on Nov 11, the annual online shopping day known as Singles' Day, as a sign that Chinese consumers can increasingly become the country's economic engine even as key sectors such as real estate sputter.  -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China should support its e-commerce industry with preferential policies, given the role it plays in stimulating domestic consumption and economic growth, China's State Council said in a paper released on Sunday.

The State Council's explicit support for the e-commerce industry and the development of related technologies, such as online payment processing and e-commerce logistics, comes as the country's leadership seeks to stoke domestic consumption amid slowing growth rates.

China's state media has pointed to the US$9.3 billion (S$11.63 billion) worth of goods bought on Nov. 11, the annual online shopping day known as Singles' Day, as a sign that Chinese consumers can increasingly become the country's economic engine even as key sectors such as real estate sputter.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the newly-public US$280 billion e-tailer that has become a champion for China's tech industry on the global stage, will likely be one of the main beneficiaries of national policies in what is already the world's second-largest e-commerce market.

JD.com, China's second largest e-commerce firm, also listed on the Nasdaq this year following a high-profile public offering in May.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, did not issue any specific policy recommendations for e-commerce, but its periodic opinions are viewed as indicative of the direction of Chinese industrial policy.

Chinese policymakers have emphasised promoting IT companies as a way to move the country beyond export-based manufacturing and up the economic value chain.

The State Council also pushed for the "transformation and upgrade" of the agricultural sector, greater use of energy-saving products and recycling, and the development of the service industry.

President Xi Jinping told world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Australia this week that China would be able to maintain "stable, sustainable and balanced growth" amid mounting concerns of a potentially sharp slowdown.

Chinese official data showed third-quarter gross domestic product grew 7.3 percent, the slowest pace since the global financial crisis.