China ready with list of import tariff cuts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 1995, 12:00am

THE Chinese Government has finalised and is due to published next week the list of more than 4,000 import items due for an overall tariff cut of about 30 per cent next year, sources in the State Economic and Trade Commission say.

'The list of import items has been completed,' a source said yesterday.

'We are just waiting for the order for when it should be published.' The commission said soon after the proposed tariff cuts were announced by President Jiang Zemin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum in Osaka, Japan, last month that the list would be published in December.

However, officials at the commission hinted yesterday there might be a slight delay.

'I can't say if the list will be published this week or this month but I can assure you it will be published soon,' said an official spokesman for the commission's taxation commission in Beijing.

Other officials said there were still some bureaucratic and notification procedures to go through before the government would be ready to reveal its closely guarded list.

'There is also the question of finding the right date for the biggest impact on the rest of the world,' a commission source said. 'This event is of major significance for the leaders so they want to get everything right.' Before publication of the list, commission officials and officials in other government departments said they had been told not to disclose its contents to any outside parties.

'They don't want people taking advantage of information in the list prior to its publication,' a source said.

'However, I think I can say there will not be too many surprises in there.' Commission officials have already stated publicly that the more than 4,000 items from the total of 6,000 will include all major import items and will be selected from each of the official 21 tariff categories.

The tariff categories include: animal and plant products, food, liquor and tobacco, minerals, chemicals, plastics, leather goods, lumber and wood by-products such as paper, textiles, shoes and clothing, bulk minerals, precious and semi-precious stones, bulk metals such as iron and steel, machinery and electrical appliances, vehicles and automotive machinery, optical and medical equipment, armaments and fine arts and miscellaneous goods such as toys and furniture.

Once the list is made public and goes into effect, presumably in January, the average tariff for goods imported into China will fall from about 35 per cent at present to about 24 per cent.

The Government hopes the tariff reductions will at least give the appearance of greater market accessibility and help smooth China's entry into the World Trade Organisation and go some way to easing trade tensions with the United States, which has been pressuring Beijing to open up its relatively closed market to foreign imports.

Yesterday, foreign companies in Beijing were still reserving judgment on how open China's market will be after the tariff reductions went into place.

'I'm glad to hear that the list has been finalised but only time will tell if this really makes a big difference to our business,' the Beijing representative of a European machinery manufacturer said.

'There are all sorts of hidden difficulties involved in getting our products into the China market, such as local protectionism, and so I'm not convinced that slashing tariffs will be the solution to all our problems,' he said.