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China drops charges on imports from New Year

By RJ Whitehead , 24-Dec-2012

Food producers exporting to China will be celebrating this New Year after the country’s top economic planning agency announced that it will significantly reduce the cost of import to the country.

Starting January 1, the National Development and Reform Commission said that China will lower inspection and quarantine fees on a wide range of imports and exports to “help ease the financial burden of companies engaged in foreign trade amid the global economic slowdown.”

The lower charges are expected to reduce costs for companies involved in foreign trade by almost RMB5.2 billion (US$827 million) a year. They will be cut to 0.08% of total value—from the current rates of 0.12% for quarantines and 0.15% for inspections. The changes cover plants, animals, edible oil and other foods and food products.

This is Beijing's latest effort to boost trade amid sluggish external demand. China's State Council said in September it would accelerate tax rebates, simplify the customs clearance process and expand bank lending to small exporters to promote "steady growth" in exports and imports.

China posted weak foreign trade growth last month. Exports rose just 2.9% in November compared to a year earlier, according to official data—much lower than October's 11.6% rise and well below economists' median forecast of a 9.6% expansion. Imports were flat against a median forecast of a 1.9% rise and a 2.4% increase in October.

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