Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation Minister Wu Yi said yesterday that Beijing would announce 'preferential policies' to lure more foreign funds to its hi-tech sector.
Foreign investment had become an essential component in the mainland's economic development, Ms Wu told the opening ceremony of the general assembly of the World Trade Centres Association.
Her speech fell into line with recent comments by deputy premier Zhu Rongji that Beijing would resume tariff exemptions on imported hi-tech capital goods.
She said the mainland intended to further open its market to foreign investors.
'China's import tariffs have been lowered by 60 per cent since 1993. We will import products with a total value of more than US$700 billion in the next four years,' she said.
She expected China's trade to reach $400 billion by 2000 by which time it would have attained the status of being a 'developed country'.
Ms Wu also gave a reassurance that Hong Kong would remain an independent customs tariff region.
'China's trading and economic policies will not be applied on Hong Kong,' the minister said.
She declined to give a full response to a statement made yesterday by US Commerce Secretary William Daley that China should speed up moves to liberalise its markets if it wanted to enter the World Trade Organisation.
'Discussions carry on,' she said.