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BEIJING (MNI) - China is reducing tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods
by an average of almost 10 percentage points, a move analysts say advances the
government's supply-side reform agenda while it opens domestic producers to more
The Ministry of Finance announced Friday that China will start to reduce
tariffs on 187 categories of consumer goods starting on Dec. 1, with an average
tariff rate for these products down to 7.7% from 17.3%.
The consumer goods include food products, healthcare products, medicines,
daily necessities, garments, home appliances and entertainment products.
The ministry said the tariff cuts meet the demands of Chinese consumers,
and are part of the government's attempt to restructure and upgrade product
supplies in China.
The announcement came less than a month after China signaled a possible
move on tariff reductions in early November, a few days before U.S. President
Donald Trump visited China for the first time after his election.
Trade experts interviewed by MNI, however, said China did not make the move
because of pressure from Trump, who has frequently criticized China's large
trade surplus with the United States. Instead, they said, the tariff reductions
are part of China's supply-side reforms.
China is making efforts to introduce more competition into its domestic
market in order to restructure its industries and enhance the quality of its
supply of goods, Pei Jiansuo, associate professor at the University of
International Business and Economics in Beijing, told MNI.
The government is also under some pressure from Chinese consumers to reduce
tariffs. In the face of high tariffs at home, Chinese consumers often resort to
using friends and family who travel overseas to purchase luxury products and
cosmetics for them -- a phenomenon known as "daigou."
Yu Miaojie, an economics professor at Peking University with a focus on
international trade and China's economic development, said in an interview with
MNI that the tariff cuts are a signal that China is continuing to further open
up its market. He noted that the range of tariff reductions is relatively large
and offers a "high-level opening," and reflects China's increasing confidence in
its economy and industries.
Yu said the impact of the tariff cuts would be small on overall trade, in
the context of its total trade volume of more than $3.31 trillion in the first
10 months of the year. He also said the 187 categories of consumer goods
included in this round of tariff cuts comprise only a small part of the nearly
7,000 categories in total.
Pei, on the other hand, said reducing tariffs could hurt some domestic
manufacturers and employment, depending on how much domestic demand for foreign
consumer goods exists. He noted that some Chinese consumers would still be
willing to go abroad to purchase foreign goods, as they may be priced much lower
than if they are bought in China, despite the tariff cuts.
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
--MNI Beijing Bureau; +86 (10) 8532-5998; email: email@example.com