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How Europe wants to stop the steep rise of Shein, Temu and AliExpress

How Europe wants to stop the steep rise of Shein, Temu and AliExpress

Packages from Shein, Temu and AliExpress may soon become significantly more expensive, as the European Commission seeks to curb unfair competition from cheap Chinese online retailers. However, that will be far from obvious.

Subsidised competition

Today, a customs exemption applies to e-commerce parcels of less than 150 euros sent from outside the European Union. However, the European Commission would like to remove that exemption, the Financial Times writes. Such a measure would primarily hit cheap Chinese online shops: Shein, Temu, AliExpress and the likes constitute an unfair competition for European webshops, partly because the Chinese government subsidises cheap air transport.

They sent as many as 2.3 billion cheap postal packages to Europe last year, according to the European Commission. In April alone, this was a record 350 million parcels. However, the newspaper reports that getting the Commission’s measure through will not be straightforward. After all, it would add a load of work to customs services, which are already overloaded. The question is whether European member states will agree.

Under fire

Chinese e-commerce players have been under fire for some time, for a variety of reasons. There are serious questions about the safety, quality and sustainability of the products they sell. Counterfeiting is also a concern.

In May, European consumer organisation BEUC and seventeen national consumer organisations filed complaints against Temu, accusing it of withholding information and using manipulation techniques. Just last week, e-commerce federation Becom called for firm action against Temu and Shein for allegedly failing to respect European rules.

In a response, Temu shielded itself with the excuse that it is a newcomer to Europe and thus needed to learn the local rules and customs: “We are fully committed to complying with the laws and regulations of the markets where we operate.”

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