Amazon registered as a freight forwarder in China

Its plans in China include handling cargo and customs for goods headed to ports in Japan, Europe and the United States.

Amazon registered its Chinese subsidiary, Beijing Century Joyo Courier Service, as a freight forwarder with China's transport ministry last year and also made a similar application with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission in November.

Amazon also filed an application with the Shanghai Shipping Exchange to serve as a shipping broker for 12 trade routes, including Shanghai to Los Angeles and Shanghai to Hamburg, Germany.

The company said it plans to charge customers between $530 and $2,530 to transport a 40-foot dry van container from Shanghai to Hamburg.

Last November, its China subsidiary updated its Beijing business registration to offer a suite of logistics services such as domestic delivery and handling the import and export of goods.

Analysts expect Amazon to use its new freight forwarder license to make it easier for Chinese merchants and manufacturers to transport their goods to major hubs where Amazon has warehouses that ship goods to customers.

Amazon would handle paperwork and select the shipping line that will transport the goods and make sure there are trucks on the other end to take shipments to its fulfillment facilities. Merchants will deal only with Amazon rather than multiple companies for trucking, warehousing and shipping.

Amazon directly imported about 10,000 20-foot containers into the U.S. last year and received an additional 20,000 containers from merchants as part of the company's Fulfillment by Amazon program, according to an analysis by Ocean Audit, a freight auditing consultancy. Some 90 percent of the shipments originated in China, according to Ocean Audit.