Online shopping spotlights trade wishes for small businesses
By Krista Hughes
WASHINGTON Dec 23 (Reuters) - Booming online shopping is turning more small businesses into exporters and pushing issues like duty-free limits and customs duties higher up the wish lists for upcoming free-trade deals.
Retailer Colleen Rast, who sells new brand-name apparel and vintage collectibles through eBay and Amazon, was hit with a $150 customs bill when a New Zealand boutique returned a shipment with a retail value of $1,000.
The duty represented 40 percent of the original cost of the goods, and Rast's Great Sky Gifts paid for the shipping too.
"It ended up almost not worth it," said Rast, who makes 20 percent to 25 percent of sales overseas. "That's the one thing that directly affects us right now, that we have to pay duties on our own merchandise to get large shipments back."
A Nielsen survey for online payment system Paypal predicts international online shopping will top $300 billion by 2018, nearly three times more than in 2013 - a lucrative market.
For many small firms, online sales are an easy entry into exporting, without the need for overseas offices or distribution networks.
"If you have an express delivery system and a reliable payment system, you can do a lot of trade that was not possible before," said Ed Gresser, director of trade policy research program Progressive Economy.
Small firms accounted for more than half of eBay's U.S., British and German cross-border holiday transactions in 2013. This year, 27 percent of global transactions over the long weekend after Thanksgiving were international. Continuación...