Zero tariff to aid African trade
A preferential tariff arrangement with some African countries will boost the continent's exports to China and activate its trade ties with the nation.
The Ministry of Commerce said China has offered tariff exemptions for certain commodities from 25 developing African countries.
The policy includes 190 tax items, covering food, textiles, minerals and machinery, according to the ministry's spokesman Chong Quan yesterday. The policy took effect on January 1, 2005, and all procedures to implement the zero tariff have been completed between China and the 25 countries, Chong said.
The policy was promised by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the second ministerial meeting of the Sino-African Co-operation Forum held at the end of 2003.
This is an important commitment China has made to assist African countries in their economic development, Chong said.
"I believe trade co-operation between China and Africa will enjoy new growth through our joint efforts," he said.
Bilateral trade between the two sides has already developed rapidly in recent years.
The bilateral trade volume topped US$26.3 billion from January to November, 2004, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Commerce, up 58 per cent year-on-year.
Africa's exports to China skyrocketed 85.8 per cent to US$13.9 billion.
Chinese exports to Africa came to US$12.4 billion in the period, reflecting a 36 per cent increase year-on-year. Machinery and electrical products replaced light industrial goods as China's biggest exports.
Africa currently has a small trading surplus with China.
Officials said China and Africa are planning to double the 2002 level to reach US$30 billion in 2006, with the target expected to be easily reached according to progress made so far.
Qi Jianwei, a senior official of the ministry's Department of Western Asian and African Affairs, recently told a seminar in Beijing that China will continue to carry out concrete measures to improve Sino-African trade.
This includes establishing free trade area with African countries and regional blocs.