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China expands free trade programs to help most needy nations

(Xinhua)

20:55, November 24, 2011

BEIJING, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- China is expanding help to boost the world's least developed countries (LDCs) through a hefty tariff exemption, to live up to its obligations despite rising protectionism amid global economic headwinds.

Chinese President Hu Jintao announced at the G20 Summit earlier this month that China will, in the context of South-South cooperation, give zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of the tariff items of exports from the LDCs with diplomatic ties to the country.

That was a further step taken by the world's second-largest economy to push trade between developing countries following its previous promise on zero-tariff treatment to 95 percent of products from relevant LDCs.

Hu said the move was among a variety of measures to create conditions for other developing countries to increase exports to China.

As one of the most open markets among developing countries to LDCs, China already announced in July last year that it would scrap tariffs on 4,762 categories of commodities imported from 33 LDCs, covering 60 percent of the total taxable items.

Before the new tax reduction, China had already put about 1,000 categories of products from 41 of the LDCs on its zero-tariff list.

"This showed the country's sincerity in aiding these developing countries," said Yu Miaojie, associate professor at the China Center for Economic Research, Peking University.

Tariff exemption would give LDCs' products an edge on the large Chinese market and help boost LDCs' exports dramatically, Yu said.

LDCs -- 33 from Africa, 14 from Asia plus Haiti -- are defined by the United Nations as those with a per capita income of less than 745 U.S. dollars a year.

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