BEIJING – China will lower tariffs on more than 850 products from Jan. 1 with the aim of expanding imports and promoting coordinated trade development, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
Products that will be come under the new tariffs include frozen pork, high-tech components such as semiconductor and memory chip equipment, and medicines to treat diabetes and asthma, according to the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council.
The commission said that the adjustments would be made to expand imports, promote the coordinated development of trade and environment, advance the high-quality development of the joint building of the Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, according to Xinhua.
The report added that China would impose zero import tax on pharmaceutical products containing alkaloids for asthma treatment as well as raw materials for the production of new diabetes medicines.
For other products, the new levy was not specified, although the text stated that it would be less than the tariff rates for its trading partners with “most-favored nation” status.
This announcement comes 10 days after Washington and Beijing reached a first-phase agreement in the ongoing discussions to resolve the trade war between them. However, there is no mention of the United States in the Xinhua article.
The reduction in the import duty on pork, an important commodity in the diet of the Chinese, comes at a time when the country’s pork supply has been severely affected by an epidemic of African swine fever detected in August 2018.
The text also stated that in 2020, China will continue to apply preferential tariff rates to goods from least developed countries that have established diplomatic ties and completed the exchange of notes on the establishment of diplomatic relations with them.
This was directed at the small Central American and South Pacific nations that have recently cut off diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, as Beijing seeks to isolate Taipei, which it considers to be a rebel province.
The text also said there would be further lowering of tariffs on products from Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Iceland, Pakistan and Australia, among other countries, under bilateral free trade agreements.
Frozen avocados, non-frozen orange juice, some wood and paper products, and waste will also be affected.
Relations between the world’s two largest economies have deteriorated since last year, when the US started a trade war with China owing to a skewed trade balance, intellectual property theft and forced transfer of technology.
Clashes between Washington and Beijing have not just been limited to the commercial sphere, but also in technology and global influence.
Trade tensions between them go beyond bilateral relations and have had global consequences.
The International Monetary Fund, in its latest forecasts in October, downgraded global growth projections for the year to 3 percent, 0.2 percent less than that in July, weighed down by doubts about a possible resolution of the trade dispute.