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EU takes aim at China’s Temu and Shein with proposed import duty, FT reports

The European Union is drawing up plans to impose customs duties on cheap goods bought from Chinese online retailers including Temu, Shein, and AliExpress, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing three people briefed on the matter.

The European Commission later this month will suggest scrapping a current 150 euros ($161) threshold under which items can be bought duty free, the report said.

Under current EU regulations, packages purchased online from a non-EU country are not subject to customs duties if their value is under 150 euros.

Two billion parcels with a declared value of less than 150 euros arrived in the EU from outside countries in 2023, according to the Commission, which says “the sheer volumes of e-commerce are testing customs’ limits”.

The EU has been discussing abolishing the limit as part of a customs reform project proposed by the Commission in May 2023, but it could now seek to speed up its adoption to counter the surge of cheap imports, the FT report said.

“We are fully supportive of efforts by lawmakers to reform the de minimis provision,” a spokesperson for Shein said, while AliExpress parent Alibaba, Temu, and the European Union did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Critics of Shein and Temu in the United States have already complained that they use import tax exemption there to undercut rivals and avoid customs inspections of their products.

The practice helps the two companies offer dresses for as little as $8 and smart watches for $25 to shoppers around the world.

  • Reporting by Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Kanjyik Ghosh; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala and Rashmi Aich, of Reuters.
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