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Import taxes 'will be cut' this year

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)

08:12, March 07, 2012

Move to help boost domestic consumption, top official says

Import taxes on a large number of consumer and luxury goods will be lowered this year, a former deputy commerce minister told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

"Consumer and luxury goods will help promote domestic consumption and China needs to reduce import duties," Wei Jianguo said on Tuesday.

Wei is a former deputy minister of commerce and also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

"There will be at least two rounds of reductions this year on a large range of goods," he told China Daily on the sidelines of the annual session of CPPCC.

In his annual government work report on Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao gave priority to boosting domestic consumption while he cut the economic growth forecast for this year to 7.5 percent.

"Expanding domestic consumption, especially consumer demand, is the key to China maintaining stable and rapid economic growth, and is this year's priority," Wen said in the report.

But for many economists and companies, lowering import tariffs on common consumer goods, including food, cosmetics and luxury products ranging from watches to bags, is of major importance.

Ministries must get ready for the move, said Liu Kegu, member of the National Committee of the CPPCC and also a former official on fiscal and tax reform at the Ministry of Finance.

China is expected to become the third-largest consumer market for luxury goods by 2015. High import tax has driven many domestic consumers to shop in other regions and countries.

According to the World Luxury Association, outbound expenditure by Chinese consumers on luxury goods during the Spring Festival hit a record high of $7.2 billion, up 28.7 percent from a year earlier.

"Why not take some measures to get this huge consumption flow back to China?" Liu said.

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Canada at 2012-03-0770.36.49.*
Perhaps each person returning from a visit outside China could be allowed a personal exemption of a certain amount, and have to pay duty on purchases above that personal exemption? That might encourage people to shop in China?
  

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