China to continue steady import growth

China is expanding imports steadily, with import growth expected to stay higher than the pace of exports for a long time.

China is expanding imports steadily and the country is ready to welcome the first China International Import Expo in November.

In the next five years, imports of goods are expected to hit US$8 trillion, and the country’s actively expanding imports will help boost global trade liberalization, create new demand and inject new impetus into world economic growth, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The import expo aims to offer an open platform for global trade, and buyers and exhibitors from throughout the world have been invited to participate.

“It fully reflects China’s consistent position in supporting the multilateral trading system and developing free trade, and clearly releases positive signals against protectionism in trade and the construction and maintenance of an open world economy,” said an official with the ministry.

China’s exports rose to 7.51 trillion yuan (US$1.11 trillion) in the first half of this year, marking a year-on-year increase of 4.9 percent, while imports grew by 11.5 percent to 6.61 trillion yuan, according to recent data released by China Customs.

“Since the beginning of this year, the world economy has continued to recover and the domestic economy has been smoothly climbing, which has promoted the rapid growth of China’s foreign trade,” said Huang Songping, spokesman for China Customs.

The total value of Chinese foreign trade in the first half of the year hit 14.12 trillion yuan, up 7.9 percent from the same period last year.

China’s trade surplus narrowed 26.7 percent to 901.32 billion yuan in the first half of the year, continuing a narrowing trend that began in late 2016.

A report by the Bank of Communications Financial Research Center said that China is shrinking the trade surplus of its own accord to promote the balanced development of import and export trades, which can help ease trade friction.

Meanwhile, expanding imports will boost the upgrading of consumption and production, promote economic restructuring, and also allow more countries to share the Chinese market, the report said.

The import growth is mainly due to factors such as China’s expansion of imports and rising prices of some bulk commodities.

Policies to expand imports have been significantly strengthened this year.

At the end of last year, import tariffs on certain consumer goods were reduced, including seafood, cosmetics, milk powder and infant diapers.

At the level of foreign policy, China will not change its strategic goal of promoting a new pattern of comprehensive opening up when the global trade war is over, according to Cheng Shi, chief economist at ICBC International.

“In the second half of 2018, the country will continue to expand imports steadily, meeting the needs of consumption upgrades, and at the same time speeding up the high-end development of domestic manufacturing industries through the ‘catfish effect’ (the effect that a strong competitor has in causing the weak to better themselves),” Cheng said.

Cheng expected import growth to remain higher than the pace of export growth for a long time to come.

The State Council Customs Tariff Commission issued a document on May 22 requesting that import tariffs on automobiles and their components should be reduced with a general tax reduction rate.

On May 30, the State Council executive meeting decided to further reduce the import tax rate for consumer goods from July 1, involving a wide range of products such as clothing, electrical appliances, aquatic products, medical and health care products, sports and fitness products, washing supplies and cosmetics.

In the first half of this year China also imported 225 million tons of crude oil, up 5.8 percent year on year; 42.08 million tons of natural gas, up 35.4 percent; refined oil increased 9.7 percent to 14.49 million tons; and 2.6 million tons of copper, a rise of 16.3 percent.

In the same period, imports of aquatic products jumped 12.4 percent, cosmetics doubled, and pharmaceuticals and medical supplies advanced by 8 percent.

“The global value chain will bring about the repeated flow of intermediate goods. Therefore, the degree of facilitation of imports also indicates export efficiency,” said Chen Dongxiao, president of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

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