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Luxuries Imports Soar in 1st 7 Months
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The rich in China have continued stack up their status symbols despite an increased consumption tax since April of last year.

From January to July, luxury consumer goods imports rose 27.6 percent year-on-year to reach US$4.85 billion, according to statistics released by China Customs on Thursday.

During that period, Chinese consumers spent US$4.05 billion, or three quarters of the total value of imported luxury items, on 117,000 passenger vehicles with an engine size above 2.5 liters.

Imports of other luxury goods, such as cigarettes, alcohol and golf balls and clubs, were all on the rise. Jewelry was an exception, dropping slightly at 5.7 percent.

China also imported 44 yachts in the first seven months, with more than half coming from the US. There is no record of yacht imports in the same period last year.

Foreign-funded trading companies have become powerhouses for China's luxury goods imports, with an import value of US$3.35 billion or almost 70 percent of China's total value of imported luxury goods.

Chinese state-owned company imports of luxury goods dropped 18.7 percent to US$720 million while imports by private firms fell by 29.4 percent to US$670 million.

The Ministry of Finance began levying customs duties with higher rates on luxury items, including high-grade watches, cosmetics, golf balls and clubs brought by travelers or mailed to China at the beginning of the year.

This came after a consumption tax on luxury goods, such as luxury watches, golf balls and clubs, yachts, wooden floor panels was enacted in April of last year.

China has become the world's third largest luxury goods consumer, with its market share taking up 12 percent of the global total by 2006. The country is expected to become the world's largest consumer of luxury items in 10 years.

(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2007)

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