Bloomberg Línea — The Chinese e-commerce platform Shein has named Bolivian entrepreneur Marcelo Claure as its Global Executive Vice President. Claure, who was already an investor in the brand and Chairman for Latin America, will now oversee strategic growth initiatives in all markets where Shein operates worldwide (over 150 countries). Claure will also work closely with the founder and global CEO of the company, Sky Xu (also known as Chris Xu), and the global executive president, Donald Tang.
Claure, formerly the COO of SoftBank Group International, joined Shein in January of this year as the executive chairman for Latin America. Since then, he has launched the Shein marketplace in Brazil and engaged in discussions with the government regarding the taxation of imported products, leading to the creation of the Remessa Conforme program for international purchases.
Based in Singapore, Shein has entered agreements with 200 factories in 12 states in Brazil, in line with the company’s plans to expand its local supply chain. Operating in Brazil since 2020, the company aims to have 85% of its sales in Brazil sourced from local companies by the end of 2026.
Under Claure’s management, Shein has announced its intention to invest initially R$750 million to start producing its products in Brazil, providing technology and training to manufacturers to modernize their traditional production methods for Shein’s on-demand fast fashion segment.
Founded in 2012 by Chinese entrepreneur Chris Xu, Shein claims to have 45 million customers in Brazil. In addition to his executive roles at Shein, Marcelo Claure continues to lead the Claure Group, his multibillion-dollar family office that invests in high-growth sectors including technology, telecom, media, real estate, energy transition, and sports. He also serves as the executive president and managing partner of Bicycle Capital, a new Latin American growth capital fund.
Shein’s plans come at a time when the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has discussed higher taxes on imported products from abroad, including those sold by Shein. This discussion led to the creation of the Remessa Conforme program.
Under the new rule, goods with a value below US$50 (approximately R$245), traded between businesses and individuals, are exempt from federal import taxes, provided that retailers collect the ICMS (Value Added Tax) with a national standard rate of 17%. For purchases exceeding this value, in addition to ICMS, a 60% tax is applied to the product’s value. The exemption from the tax for shipments between individuals remains in effect.
In addition to Shein, AliExpress, MercadoLibre, and Shopee have also adopted Remessa Conforme. Shopee stated that purchases from over 3 million Brazilian sellers, accounting for more than 85% of orders on the platform, will not be affected.
Imports of low-value products totaled US$1.012 billion in August 2023, the first month in which the new taxation rules for these products came into effect, representing a 32.9% increase compared to the previous month when it reached US$761 million. However, there was a 13.6% decline compared to the same month in 2022. These statistics were gathered by Vixtra, a fintech specializing in foreign trade, based on data provided by the Central Bank in the last week of September.
Leonardo Baltieri, co-CEO of Vixtra, explained that the decline since the end of the first quarter is related to discussions about the taxation of these products. He noted that importation has shown significant fluctuations in the following months due to uncertainties surrounding potential tax rules. On the other hand, the growth in imports despite the new rules may be linked to consumers’ better understanding of the regulations.
“With the introduction of Remessa Conforme and the major players’ adherence to the program, it is becoming clearer for consumers how much they will be taxed and how much they will pay for the final product, allowing for some predictability regarding costs and evaluating whether the purchase still makes sense.”
In the first eight months of this year, US$6.9 billion worth of imports were recorded, a 6.2% decrease (US$451 million) compared to the same period last year.
“Despite the significant fluctuations observed in imports throughout the year and changes in taxation, there continues to be a strong interest among Brazilians in products from these e-commerce platforms. The clarity in the new tax rules and the cost-effectiveness of these purchases will remain key factors attracting consumers,” said Baltieri.