Lower tariffs dual circulation booster
Shelves of imported goods at a supermarket in Beijing. [Photo/Screenshot from CCTV news]
According to the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council, the country will apply provisional import tariff rates that are lower than Most Favored Nation tariff rates to 883 commodities, starting Jan 1.
This, along with parallel plans for tariff reductions next year under a number of bilateral and multilateral international agreements, is a precious New Year gift to both Chinese consumers and domestic and international markets.
It will not only bring tangible benefits to people at home, but also provide a timely boost to the leadership's stated goal of vigorous "internal circulation" at home accompanied by a "higher level of opening up".
Specifically, in order to reduce the financial burden on patients and their families, a second batch of raw materials for drugs for cancers and rare diseases as well as food items for children with special medical needs will be exempted from tariffs. And import tariffs on such medical equipment as artificial heart valves, hearing aids, as well as raw materials for infant formulas such as whey protein powder and lactoferrin will be lowered.
This may have no direct impact on the high prices of some badly needed lifesaving imported pharmaceutical drugs. But it should help increase the availability, and ultimately reduce the cost of their homemade equivalents, albeit not immediately.
What may bring instant cost cuts are the tariff reductions for equipment, parts and raw materials necessary for key infrastructure construction and high-tech projects. This will also prove true for aviation equipment such as airplane fuel pumps, which remain a sore point for the domestic industry, and for broadly needed resources and products such as timber and paper.
While meeting domestic needs, the tariff readjustments are also meant to serve the higher goal of facilitating the country's fresh approach to international trade.
In order to promote quality progress of the Belt and Road Initiative, in accordance with effective free trade agreements and preferential trade arrangements with related countries, including the latest Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, China will implement agreed tariffs on some products from the countries concerned, the commission said.
Meanwhile, 43 of the least-developed countries that have established diplomatic relations and fulfilled document exchange procedures with Beijing will continue enjoying preferential tariff rates.
Like the relatively new China International Import Expo, these adjustments are testimony to Beijing's commitment to "win-win outcomes" when it comes to international economic and trade ties.
While attracting global resources to meet domestic needs, the move also demonstrates China's resolve to retain its appeal as a land of opportunities for the outside world.