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Guide for Business Startups to Import from China to Europe



For the last few years, China has acquired the position of “Factory of the World” and has turned into a fantastic product source for international sellers. The statistics said that total export of China was 3.4 trillion USD in 2023 throughout the world, and out of that 715 billion USD was exported only to Europe.

In today's globalized marketplace, European business startups are increasingly looking to China as a primary source for their products. With its vast manufacturing capabilities, competitive pricing, and diverse range of suppliers, China offers numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs to establish a strong product sourcing strategy for all business companies of the world.

Because of the rapid growth of export capabilities of China, many companies have started developing their supply chain. However, you need to understand that to import bulk goods from China, you must follow a certain strict process because of various regulations in place by China as well as Europe.

Theoretically, all that you must do is to select any product and then buy it at a cheaper rate from any of the Chinese factories and using your own branding just sell in your country with a certain markup. However, it may be easier said than done, those who have already attempted to source from China for Europe can realize that it may not be as easy as it appears to be.

This article aims to provide insights and guidance on developing an effective product sourcing strategy in China for business startups.

Why does importing from China make good sense?

The following are a few good reasons why it makes perfect economic sense to import from China and then resell them.

A wide range of products is available in China. You can always choose what kind of items to import in this condition. Additionally, this can help in your business diversification. You improve your prospects of your company’s expansion by doing this. Moreover, diversifying will help you surge your market share.

- Products from China are usually inexpensive. This is great since it helps you to resell them at a competitive, offering you an upper hand over your competitors.

- These days, many latest trends are coming out regularly in the Chinese market. This suggests that there will be continuous supply of fresh goods. This will make it simple for you to sell various products to your customers.

- China is now a trading and manufacturing powerhouse, the second-largest exporter in the world. As a result, importing from China gives you access to a wide range of markets. In general, the nation offers both enterprises and individuals a wide range of options.

- The Chinese manufacturer is characterized by lower wages, readily available resources, and skilled designers. These three factors make it possible to produce goods more quickly, inexpensively, and in big quantities. Therefore, it is difficult to deny that China is the ideal location for your items' manufacturing or even assembly.

- Another factor is the international increase in demand for Chinese products. This is primarily because they are inexpensive. It follows that there will always be a market for the products that you will be importing from China to Europe.

Understanding the Chinese market

Before delving into product sourcing in China, it is crucial for business startups to have a comprehensive understanding of the Chinese market.

1. Market research

Conduct thorough market research to identify the most popular product categories and trends that are available in China. This will help you align your sourcing strategy with the demands of both domestic and international markets.

2. Supplier ecosystem

Familiarize yourself with the supplier ecosystem in China. There are numerous suppliers and manufacturers across different provinces and regions, each with their own specialties and production capabilities. Understanding this ecosystem will enable you to find the right partners for your sourcing needs.

Also, acquaint yourself with the supplier network in China, considering factors such as:

- Specialization
- Production capabilities
- Geographical location.

Challenges for importing from China to Europe

While China offers immense opportunities for business startups, there are several challenges that need to be addressed. The following are a few common challenges and ways to mitigate them:

1. Language and cultural barriers

Despite the numerous opportunities, business startups may face challenges when sourcing products from China. Barriers of language and culture can make communication difficult. To overcome this, consider hiring local staff or working with verified sourcing agents who have deep understanding of Chinese market.

2. Supply chain management

Establishing an efficient supply chain is essential for timely delivery and inventory management. Work closely with suppliers to optimize lead times, production schedules, and shipping methods. Implementing supply chain management tools can help streamline operations.

3. Price negotiation

Negotiation with China suppliers is a critical aspect of product sourcing. Research market prices, benchmark against competitors, and be prepared to negotiate based on volume and long-term partnerships.

Be prepared to negotiate based on volume and long-term partnerships. However, remember to maintain a balance between quality and price to ensure the value of your products.

Main steps for importing from China to Europe

1. Find the ideal supplier

Finding a source who can meet your company's needs is essential when looking for items to import from China.

a. Search online marketplaces

Online marketplaces can also be a convenient way to find and connect with a wide range of suppliers. Look for reputable platforms that offer verification processes and customer reviews to ensure the reliability of the suppliers you choose. Utilize online platforms that connect buyers with suppliers in China. These marketplaces provide access to a vast pool of suppliers across various industries.

Alibaba is a famous B2B marketplace where vendors may sell goods internationally. This site will offer you a wide range of goods. It establishes a minimum buying threshold. Therefore, buying in bulk is necessary.

b. Attend trade shows in China

China hosts numerous trade shows and exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing a wide range of products and suppliers. Participating in these events allows you to meet potential suppliers face-to-face, assess product quality, and negotiate pricing.

These events allow you to:

- Assess product quality.
- Negotiate pricing.
- Establish personal relationships with suppliers.

c. Attend trade shows in Europe

Besides Chinese trade shows, there are many suppliers who may also participate in different fairs within Europe. Building strong relationships with suppliers is vital for long-term success. By visiting supplier’s booth, checking samples, and engaging in open communication, you can foster trust and collaboration.

d. Third-party sourcing organizations

There are businesses in China that specialize in helping sellers identify suppliers that perfectly suit their requirements. These businesses establish close ties with numerous manufacturers to create a network that offers sellers high-quality options without the hassle of meeting new people, making trips to China, or negotiating with potential subpar suppliers.

2. Ensure compliance with European regulations

All products coming into Europe must be secure for customers. Regulations have been put in place as a result. This guarantees compliance with Europe laws governing safety and quality. Other goods will follow different regulations.

Due to its complexity and requirement for extensive laboratory testing to ensure that the goods conform, this can be quite challenging for organizations to organize autonomously. A wide range of demand, including sample testing, product quality inspection, and labelling, are covered by third-party quality assurance organizations. A third-party organization enables a streamlined supply chain strategy, removing the possibility that goods would fail inspections or violate the standards.

3. Check VAT and import duties

When bringing goods into Europe for commercial purposes, certain taxes must be paid. Depending on the item in question, this sum will vary. To do this, the government has created a list that links a code to a product tax and requires that this information be included in the import documentation. The trade tariff tool is the name of this manual. Additionally, it will provide advice regarding whether you require additional permits for commodities like chemicals.

You must pay the VAT along with the amount of the import charge and customs value when you import from China to Europe. The cost of items that have been shipped from outside the EU and have a value greater than £135 is referred to as customs duty.

You can determine the import tariffs you must pay once the commodity code for the items you are importing is identified.

Calculating your entire product value and adding any freight, insurance, import duty, and other fees will help you determine how much VAT to pay. Afterward, multiply it by 20% (the VAT rate in Europe).

In reality, you are paying VAT on every expense associated with purchasing products and distributing them within Europe. The amount you pay for your purchases plus the cost of transportation plus Europe duty constitutes the taxable import for which VAT is due.

4. Ensure quality of the products

The basic consideration while importing any items into Europe should be their superior quality. This guarantees fewer significant problems with abiding by legal requirements and preserving your company's reputation with customers.

Implement stringent quality control measures to ensure items purchased from China meet your specifications and customer expectations. This may involve IPQC inspection, pre-shipment inspections, and lab testing in compliance with international quality standards.

5. Protect intellectual property

Protect your intellectual property when sourcing products from China. Consider filing patents, trademarks, or copyrights in both your home country and China. Additionally, implement non-disclosure agreements and work closely with trusted legal advisors to safeguard your intellectual assets.

6. Consider hiring a Chinese sourcing company

In a country like China, you can be highly benefitted by hiring a sourcing company who will be in China, when you are thinking to import from China to Europe. The following are a few good reasons why such an agent can be useful to you:

- These agents are aware of all Chinese sources.

- They can offer a very useful help during the price negotiation.

- They can ensure the quality of the product in the factory in China.

- The communication gap is one of the biggest issues that people from Europe may face. As only a few people in China understand proper English. These agents can bridge this gap.

However, to be successful in this venture, you must try to find a trustworthy Chinese sourcing company first so that your process of importing from China can be a breeze.


There are many European business startups that are very keen to import from China to Europe. However, those who have already attempted to source from China for Europe can realize that it may not be as easy as it appears to be. For quite a few, this may seem to be a difficult task.

So, you need to get a proper understanding of Chinese product sourcing. Developing a robust product sourcing strategy in China is a crucial step for business startups looking to capitalize on the country's manufacturing capabilities.

By understanding the Chinese market, leveraging various sourcing strategies, and addressing challenges through effective mitigation, startups can establish reliable and profitable supplier relationships in China. With the right approach, business startups can source high-quality products at competitive prices, ensuring customer satisfaction and business growth.

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