China launches pilot ‘parallel import’ for foreign cars

China will allow selected auto dealers registered in Shanghai’s free trade zone to import and sell cars without the consent of foreign carmakers, according to an official notice published late on Wednesday.

The launch of the pilot programme to allow so-called “parallel imports” of cars had been widely anticipated and analysts have said the move could put downward pressure on certain models, especially those in the premium segment.

The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce said in a notice posted on its website late on Wednesday that dealers registered in the FTZ with at least five years of operation history and three consecutive years of profit can apply for the programme. The cars can be sold throughout the country.

Parallel imports are common in developed countries but often with heavy restrictions, such as limiting them to direct purchases by individuals.


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