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 commodities of 4,874 tax numbers, 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 of 3,462 on its own again, and the overall level of the customs duties decreased to 15.3 percent. The year 2002 was the first year after China's accession to the WTO. China's overall level of the import customs duties decreased from 43.2 percent in 1992 to 12 percent in 2002, thus thoroughly changing the traditional high customs-duty policy. This decrease of customs duty involved a total of 4,315 tax items, making up 59 percent of China's total tax items.
Starting from January 1, 2004 China made further efforts to reduce its customs duties, and the overall level of the customs duties decreased from 11 percent in 2003 to 10.4 percent. By 2005, the average customs duties of industrial products will be reduced to 9.3 percent, among which, those of most of the mechanical products will decrease to 5 to 10 percent, and those of some of the products will become zero.