In recent years, to quickly merge itself with the world economic tide, China has made active efforts to reduce Customs duties. On April 1, 1996 the Chinese government reduced the rate of import duties of 4,971 tax items, thus making the tariff rate decrease from 35 percent to 23 percent on average. On October 1, 1997, the Chinese government reduced the import duty rate of 4,874 tax numbers of commodities, resulting in the reduction of the Customs duties from 23 percent to 17 percent on average. Starting from January 1, 2001 the Chinese government decided to reduce the Customs duties on its own again, and the overall level of the Customs duty decreased to 15.3 percent. This decrease of Customs duty involved a total of 3,462 tax items, making up 49 percent of China’s total tax items.
At the Fourth Informal Summit of the APEC held in Subic Bay, the Philippines, 1996, the Chinese leader declared: “China will reduce the overall level of the Customs duty to about 15 percent by 2000.” This reduction of Customs duty by a large margin put the Chinese leader’s promise into practice and expressed China’s determination and sincerity for dedicating itself to the open economy, strengthening the economic and trade cooperation with other countries and regions in the world, and striving to promote world economic development.
Having entered the WTO, the Chinese government will continue to carry out its promise of reducing the Customs duty step by step. By 2005, China’s Customs duty rate will have dropped to below the average level of developing countries, and its average import duty rate of industrial products to about 10 percent.