Chinese tourists check out Louis Vuitton handbags at the Harrods store in London in February. Harrods has accepted China UnionPay bankcards since Feb 3 because of the large number of Chinese shoppers seeking luxury goods. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]
BEIJING - Import tariffs levied against resources and high-tech products will probably soon be lowered and favorable rules could also be on the way to ensure people buy luxury goods in China instead of heading overseas, according to economic advisers close to the nation's decision-makers.
"The cuts in tariffs will mean products that we need the most, such as resources, are prioritized," said Jia Kang, head of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science affiliated to the Ministry of Finance.
He told China Daily on Sunday that the import of high-tech goods is also likely to benefit from new rules.
Luxury goods are not urgently needed but changes would ensure Chinese people spend money within the domestic market instead of heading overseas in search of high-end products.
"The reduction of import tariffs on each of these goods will probably be carried out at the same time," said Jia. He said the new rules could be announced very soon, but the specifics rest with ministry officials.
In addition to cuts in import tariffs on a range of products, the procedures that importers must follow will be simplified, Vice-Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said in an earlier interview.
"The reduction of tariffs should first support the import of technological products, but tariffs on high-end consumer goods, such as luxury goods, should also be reduced as soon as possible, especially given that we are not very competitive in that industry," said Ma Xiuhong, former vice-minister of commerce and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
"If tariffs on these goods remain very high, consumers will go abroad to make their purchases," she said, estimating that the annual spending of Chinese residents abroad had exceeded $100 billion.
Su Ning, board chairman of China UnionPay, the country's only credit card network, told China Daily that overseas consumption facilitated by China UnionPay's network hit 180 billion yuan ($27.4 billion) last year.
He expects the figure to grow rapidly in the coming years.
"When you consider that a lot of Chinese citizens buy high-end consumer goods with cash, the actual amount of consumption overseas is much higher," said Ma.
Premier Wen Jiabao vowed on Saturday that the government will adopt a slew of measures to further stimulate imports as the country seeks a more balanced trade relationship with other countries.
"We will attach equal importance to exports and imports, and increase imports of advanced technical equipment, key parts and components, and energy and raw materials," he said while delivering his annual work report to the National People's Congress.