China to further reduce tariffs and remove non-tariff barriers for foreign investors

October 20, 2019

SHANGHAI/WASHINGTON: Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng vowed to further reduce tariffs and remove non-tariff barriers for global investors, official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.Han welcomed...

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SHANGHAI/WASHINGTON: Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng vowed to further reduce tariffs and remove non-tariff barriers for global investors, official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.

Han welcomed multinational companies to invest more in China, saying the country will only open its door wider and wider, according to Xinhua.

Han made the remarks at a summit for multinational companies in China’s eastern city of Qingdao, Xinhua said.

In a separate event on Saturday, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said China will work with the United States to address each other’s core concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and that stopping the trade war would be good for both sides and the world.

China’s trade surplus with the United States, which is at the center of their dispute, rose to $323.32 billion last year, the biggest on record going back to 2006.

China’s average import tariff of 3.5 percent is the highest among top industrial nations, data from the World Bank shows, although its tariff rates have fallen sharply over the past 20 years.

Negotiators from both camps have been seeking to iron out differences over China’s treatment of state-owned enterprises, subsidies, forced technology transfers and cyber theft.

The two sides are expected to sign memorandums of understanding for actions to be taken by China on issues ranging from structural reforms to trade and economic policies.

Reuters reported that both sides were drafting MOUs on cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade, including subsidies. Trump administration officials have pointed to China’s industrial subsidies, numerous regulations, business licensing procedures, product standards reviews and other practices as non-tariff barriers to trade.

China and the United States reached a limited deal last week toward ending the trade war that has roiled global markets and hammered world growth. Both sides are working toward a written agreement.

China’s third-quarter economic growth slowed to an annual 6 percent, its weakest pace in almost three decades as the bruising trade war hit factory production and investment sentiment.

Liu said on Saturday that China will step up investment in core technologies to accelerate economic restructuring, adding economic prospects remain “very bright.”

“We’re not worried about short-term economic volatility. We have every confidence in our ability to meet macroeconomic targets for the year,” he said.

Liu said improved relations between China and the United States benefited the world.

“Growth in Sino-U.S. economic and trade cooperation is connected to peace, stability and prosperity of the whole world,” he said. “China and the U.S. can meet each other half way, based on equality and mutual respect, addressing each other’s core concerns, striving to create a good environment and achieving both sides’ common goals.” The International Monetary Fund estimated that a tentative trade deal reached by Washington and Beijing last week could reduce the harm done by tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by both countries over the past 15 months.

Instead of dragging global growth down by 0.8 percent, the impact might be limited to 0.6 percent, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said he thinks a trade deal between the United States and China will be signed by the time the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings take place in Chile on Nov. 16 and 17.

“I think it will get signed quite easily, hopefully by the summit in Chile, where President Xi and I will both be,” Trump told reporters at the White House, without providing details. “We’re working with China very well,” Trump also said.

The White House has announced that China agreed to buy up to $50 billion of US farm products annually, as part of the first phase of a trade deal, although China seems slow to follow through.

The so-called phase 1 deal was unveiled at the White House last week during a visit by vice premier He as part of a bid to end a tit-for-tat trade war between Beijing and Washington that has roiled markets and hammered global growth. US officials said a second phase of negotiations could address thornier issues like forced technology transfer and non-financial services issues.


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