The mainland will slash import taxes on pork and foodstuffs temporarily to avoid a sharp rise in inflation arising from the earthquake in Sichuan. Tariffs on 26 types of food spanning six categories would be cut as much as 66 per cent from June 1 to the end of the year, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday. National Bureau of Statistics deputy head Xu Xianchun feared the quake would derail the government's plan to limit inflation to 4.8 per cent this year. He admitted that the disaster added pressure to meet that target. Import tariffs on nine key products such as frozen pork, cod, pistachios, baby food and enzymes will be cut from 6 per cent to 12 per cent to 2 per cent to 10 per cent. To aid reconstruction, the existing 3 per cent import tax on medical vaccines and blood proteins will be scrapped in the same period. Coconut oil will have its tax halved to 5 per cent while palm oil will be lowered from 9 per cent to 5 per cent in the three months to September 30. Import tariffs on cotton will be reduced by 37 per cent to 357 yuan (HK$401) per tonne between June 5 and October 5. Policymakers and economists warned that the quake would fuel inflation as Sichuan is a key agricultural production base. Merrill Lynch economist Lu Ting expected the quake would keep inflation at a relatively high level of 8 per cent this month.