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US$128m duty-free ASEAN products imported
Updated: 2004-05-14 09:24

China imported from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) some 1.06 billion yuan (US$128 million) worth of products enjoying zero tariff in the first quarter of 2004, according to the Administration of Customs (AOC).

Thanks to the "early harvest" preferential tariff program launched by China and ASEAN on January 1 this year, China has increased its import volume from ASEAN, importing products subject to the program valuing 6.15 billion yuan (US$744 million), of which 1.06 billion yuan of products were duty-free, statistics from AOC indicates.

Among the ten member states of ASEAN, Thailand has benefited most from exporting vegetables and fruits to China, thanks to the China-Thailand zero tariff agreement on these two categories of products implemented on October 1, 2003. According to the agreement, the two countries eliminated tariffs on 188 imported fruits and vegetables.

From January to April, China had imported vegetables and fruits from Thailand amounting to 796 million yuan (US$96 million), reduced and exempted tariffs worth 70.4 million yuan (US$8.5 million), while China had exported vegetables and fruits valuing 109 million yuan (US$13 million) to Thailand within the period.

Other ASEAN member states including Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have also exported 12 categories of their products with preferential export tariffs to China in the first quarter of 2004.

China and ASEAN began talks on a free trade agreement in early 2002 and signed in November that year a framework agreement aimed at phasing out tariffs. The "early harvest" program between China and ASEAN started on January 1, 2004, with Beijing reducing tariffs on about 500 agricultural products from six core ASEAN nations and planning to finally reduce to zero tariffs by 2006.

China and ASEAN agreed to work faster toward a free trade agreement in 2010, thus creating the world's most populous market with nearly 2 billion consumers.

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