20 Chinese governmental departments vow to facilitate imports

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/10 19:08:40

China is moving quickly to lay the groundwork to expand imports of a wide range of goods and services as part of the country's approach to balance foreign trade and boost domestic industrial upgrades, as the world's second-largest economy faces an increasingly complex domestic and global environment.

With a series of announcements from various government agencies in the past few days, China aims to highlight its commitment to long-term opening-up policies and defend global free trade, experts said.

And coming just days after tit-for-tat tariffs between China and the US, the announcements are also aimed at telling the US that China is ready to balance trade but will not give into threats and blackmail.

In a notice released on Monday, 20 different government agencies said that they would take measures to facilitate imports of goods and services in several areas, including daily consumer goods, high-tech equipment, agricultural and natural resources.

To increase imports of livelihood-related goods, the agencies, led by the Ministry of Commerce, said they would lower tariffs on such products, clear out "unreasonable pricing" and expand duty-free products.

China will also fast-track agreements with relevant countries on agricultural products to facilitate imports through a streamlined inspection process, the notice said, which follows an earlier policy guideline from the State Council, China's cabinet, on expanding imports.

"This is a major shift in China's trade policy. It means that China is refocusing on imports," Wang Jun, deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Although Chinese officials have long talked about expanding imports, the new announcements from 20 agencies, which is rare, means that China is ready to make "full-fledged efforts" to increase imports, Wang said.

Addressing challenges

Coming at a time when unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise and the Chinese economy is going through a period of upgrades, the announcements, along with other opening-up measures, serves as a balanced way to address challenges, experts noted on Tuesday.

"On one hand, the decision to increase imports is aimed at meeting domestic demand and spurring China's industrial upgrades and economic reform. On the other hand, the measures serve as China's way of defending global free trade," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

In an effort to prevent it from trading too much with certain countries, the government agencies also said that China would make extra efforts to increase imports from countries along the Belt and Road routes and from the least developed countries, which could enjoy duty-free exports to China.

Experts reached by the Global Times also said on Tuesday that the move also sends a signal to the US, which has resorted to protectionist measures to address its trade imbalance, that China is already taking steps to balance trade and that tariffs on Chinese goods will not work.

"We are telling the US that if you work with China, you will definitely receive benefits, but if you fight with China, then all you can do is watch others benefit," Bai said.

Newspaper headline: Twenty govt agencies vow to facilitate importation


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