Customers walk past a L'Oreal counter at a shopping center in Rizhao, Shandong province. (Photo/China Daily)
Major foreign cosmetic companies are basking in the sweet smell of success after a move to cut red tape on imported beauty products in Shanghai.
The decision to prune the customs procedure from three months to one week in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone has been hailed as key breakthrough for overseas makeup and perfume businesses registered in the FTZ.
New regulations started in March and will run for a trial period until Dec 21, 2018. If it proves successful, it will be extended.
"Related departments can provide the filing certificate within five working days now," according to authorities at Shanghai FTZ.
L'Oreal China was one of the first multinational cosmetics companies to benefit from the policy change.
The French group plans to launch a new Lancome cleansing mask later this year to coincide with the new regulations.
"For cosmetic products, three months is a long time in terms of fashion," said Yu Xiao, director of the registration and claim affairs at the scientific and regulatory affairs department at L'Oreal China.
The blue-chip brand reported sales of 7.04 billion euros (.9 billion) in the first quarter of this year, according to the company's website, with the Asia Pacific region, which includes China, posting 1.5 billion euros.
"Companies will be more competitive because of the new policy and consumers will be more in tune with international trends," Yu said.
Figures released showed that cosmetics brought into the Shanghai FTZ make up 30.4 percent of the total volume of imported beauty products for the whole country.
Leading global players such as L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and Amore Pacific consider the market here vital to their worldwide operations.
"The new policy will benefit the color cosmetic products the most as they are frequently updated with new editions," Yu said.
"There are always special editions for Christmas and New Year. With this policy, we can catch the right time to roll out our products here," she added.
Since the trade zone was launched nearly four years ago, a total of 73 multinational companies have set up their regional headquarters there.
More than 8,300 foreign firms have registered within the Shanghai FTZ while import and export volumes increased by 5.8 percent last year.