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  • A customer buys pork from a vendor at a market in Beijing, China.

    A customer buys pork from a vendor at a market in Beijing, China. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 December 2019

The tariff changes will be made to “increase imports of products facing a relative domestic shortage, or foreign specialty goods for everyday consumption.”

China will lower tariffs on more than 850 products starting next year as Beijing looks to promote high-quality development of trade, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said Monday.

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The tariff changes will be made to “increase imports of products facing a relative domestic shortage, or foreign specialty goods for everyday consumption,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The introduction or reduction of the provisional import tax rates will include products such as frozen pork, frozen avocados, and non-frozen orange juice amid efforts to moderately increase the import of daily consumer goods.

The finance ministry said the tariff rate for frozen pork will be cut to eight percent from the most-favored-nation duty of 12 percent, as China copes to plug a huge supply gap after a severe pig disease decimated its hog herd.

However, meat industry representatives in the United States said the measure did not appear to affect the retaliatory tariffs in place for U.S. pork. The tariffs on U.S. pork are currently up to 72 percent.

The country also will impose zero import tax on pharmaceutical products containing alkaloids for asthma treatment as well as raw materials for the production of new diabetes medicines to reduce medication costs and promote the production of new medicines, the commission added.

A lower temporary import tax for ferroniobium - used as an additive to high strength low alloy steel and stainless steel for oil and gas pipelines, cars and trucks - and multi-component integrated circuit memories will be implemented to support the country’s high-tech development.

The development comes as China is aiming to boost its still-growing but slowing economy, mainly due to the trade war with the U.S. Although a first phase agreement was reached in principle last week it mainly served to halt scheduled tariffs and reduced those implemented earlier this year. 

The agreement will reduce some U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for increased Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural, manufactured and energy products by some US$200 billion over the next two years, nearly double U.S. exports, according to U.S. Trade representatives.

China also suspended the planned additional tariffs on some U.S. products to be implemented on Dec. 15, which covered the 10 and five percent additional tariffs, respectively, on the imported products.

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “the first-phase economic and trade agreement reached between the U.S. and China is a good thing for the U.S., China, and the entire world,” but there was no mention of any detail in the limited trade deal or any further actions. 

Meanwhile, the Asian giant announced that in 2020 it will continue to apply conventional tariff rates on some products originated from 23 countries and regions under the relevant free trade agreements or preferential trade arrangements.

Further tariff reduction will be made according to the free trade agreements China has separately signed with New Zealand, Peru, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Iceland, Singapore, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Georgia, Chile, and Pakistan, as well as the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement.

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