Traders dismiss tariff cut impact

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 1996, 12:00am

CAMERAS, photocopy machines and sunglasses are on China's latest list of imports to face tariff reductions, but foreign vendors say the cuts are not enough to stimulate sales.

In line with previously announced items, components saw bigger cuts than finished products.

The tariffs on cameras will be reduced to 30 per cent from 50 per cent while that on camera parts will be cut to 15 per cent from 40 per cent.

A camera trader said he was not excited about the news because Beijing had announced measures to restrict camera imports.

'There was news last week the government would more strictly implement rules that require approval documents,' he said. 'If that is true, it's meaningless to have a zero tariff if we can't get the document.' China approved documents allowing tens of thousands of cameras to be imported a year, but the actual number of imports through 'unofficial channels' was several million.

Even with the tariff cut, imported cameras were still expensive by China's standard and could fetch $1,500 on the mainland compared with $1,000 in Hong Kong, the trader said.

He said if there was no tariff or the tariff was very low, his company would be able to compete with smuggled goods.

Glenn Chan, office equipment division manager of Chevalier (OA) China, said the mild reduction for photocopy machines would have little impact on sales. The tariff on photocopy machines will be reduced to 30 per cent from 40 per cent, while that on photocopy machine parts will be halved to 15 per cent.

'The bigger cut in parts may help [the after-sales market] as it costs less for customers to repair and maintain the machines,' he said.

Sales in photocopy machines had grown rapidly in China with the company recording a 50 per cent increase last year over 1994.

The tariff on sunglasses was trimmed to 40 per cent from 60 per cent.

The new list, carried in the International Business newspaper, brought to 4,354 the number of items with reduced tariffs from April.

The cuts are part of Beijing's efforts to join the World Trade Organisation.