China will lower or remove import duties on a number of products such as frozen pork and avocado, and some high-tech products and parts starting on January 1, 2020, as part of a tariff adjustment package announced Monday, as the country further promotes high-quality trade growth.
To expand imports and optimize imports structure, some 859 items of commodities will be subjected to temporary import duty rates, which are lower than most-favored-nation (MFN) tariffs, starting January 1, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council (CTCSC) said in an online statement. In 2019, 706 products were taxed at temporary rates.
One of the goals of expanding imports is to meet Chinese people's improving living standards. Some 80 consumer products that Chinese markets are short of, or the products that are popular in the Chinese market, will be subjected to lower duty rates.
Import duties for frozen pork will be lowered to 8 percent from the MSN duty of 12 percent, and the rate for frozen avocado will be lowered to 7 percent from 30 percent. Duty rates on pet foods are lower to cater to Chinese consumers' increasing enthusiasm for providing higher living standards for their pets.
To lower drug costs and promote the development and production of new drugs, tariffs on some pharmaceutical raw materials for the treatment of asthma and diabetes will be scrapped. However, relatively low temporary import tariff rates will continue to be imposed on advanced equipment and its parts from the likes of ferroniobium and culture medium to support the development of the high-tech industry. Resource products such as timber and paper products will also enjoy temporary lower duty rates, the statement said.
In a bid to shore up the Belt and Road Initiative and develop a network of high-standard free trade areas that are mutually beneficial and promote further opening up, China will also apply conventional tariffs on products from 23 countries and regions, including further reduction in tariffs under free trade pacts between China and relevant countries. This move will result in lower tariffs with numerous trade partners including New Zealand, Peru, Costa Rica and Switzerland.
To promote the coordinated development of trade and the environment, while restricting waste that poses an environmental hazard, MFN tariffs on tungsten and niobium scrap will be resumed.
China will cut down the MFN rates for 176 items of information technology products from July 1, 2020, and correspondingly adjust the temporary import duty rates for some of these products.
The Customs Tariff Commission noted the above measures will reduce import costs, press ahead with high-level opening-up, speed up the building of high-standard free trade areas, and ensure free and inclusive trade worldwide by sharing the benefits with other countries.
Positive on China's imports on 2020
Influenced by trade frictions with the U.S., China's imports during the first three quarters of 2019 dropped 0.1 percent compared to the same period last year.
Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, predicted that there is growing space for imports in China next year, "since China's economy will continue to expand, thus generate needs for import products."
In addition to the fundamental economic drive, there are many practical measures in China to promote imports, according to Bai, such as the China International Import Expo, which has been held for two consecutive years, the further tariff cut next year, and the various policies, supporting service platforms and loan tools purported by China's top leadership in recent years.
"The world expects China to further open up, and expanding imports is one of China's responses to that call," Bai said.
Bai believes that by expanding imports, and introducing wider choices and competition, the Chinese market will be able to allocate resources more effectively, thus further promote the development of China's economy.
China and the U.S. are finalizing their phase one deal, where China will boost purchases of American products, and the U.S. will roll back some of the added tariffs. However, Bai believes even without the phase one deal, it is still an inexorable trend for China to increase its imports, since its's always been China's goal, and a manifestation of China's high quality opening-up.
"Being a world trade power will definitely generate more opportunities for the rest of the world, it means that we will form a complementary relationship with the rest of the world, and utilize global resources to fill our own shortages," Bai said. "It also aligns with the structural-side reform in China."