UNITED Parcel Service (UPS) is firming up plans for expansion in China, which could result in the company opening its own offices in key cities this year. 'This is part of our plan to increase our global reach and provide a comprehensive worldwide distribution logistics service to our customers around the world,' said Charles Adam, the company's vice-president for Asia-Pacific. 'We are committed to expanding in China and the Asia-Pacific, which have enormous growth potential,' he said. The United States express industry giant entered the China market in 1988 through a service partnership agreement with Sinotrans. Since then, it has made significant inroads and now serves 57 cities on the mainland. It opened representative offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in May last year. Recently, it became the pilot user of the Shanghai customs department's new electronic data interchange (EDI) system for air express import shipments. Operational since November, the EDI system cuts customs clearance time for shipments to Shanghai as details on manifest forms are no longer required to be manually written. Since it entered the Asia-Pacific market, UPS has invested US$102 million, mainly on acquisitions and building up its facilities and operational needs. Over that period, UPS has recorded an annual average growth of more than 50 per cent and now holds 15 to 20 per cent share of the region's air express market. During the second quarter of last year, UPS saw a 42.8 per cent growth in volume over the comparable 1993 period. UPS has offices in more than 40 countries and territories and employs 3,000 people in the region. The company began operations in Indochina in April last year with the introduction of its Worldwide Express Service to Vietnam, which was extended to Burma in June and Cambodia in September. Mr Adam said the company's rapid international expansion was accomplished in part through a multi-billion dollar technology upgrade programme. This includes an international shipments processing system.