In 2004, China's import and export trade volume totaled US$ 1,154.79 billion, a 35.7 percent year-on-year increase, and ranking 3rd in world trade. This compares to 27th, 16th, 8th and 4th place in 1978, 1990, 2000 and 2001 respectively. At present, more than 220 countries and regions trade with China. China's mainland's 10 major trade partners are: the EU, the US, Japan, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, ASEAN, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan Province, Australia, Russia and Canada.
On July 1, 2004, China began to implement the revised Foreign Trade Law. This law has transformed the 50-year-old examination and approval system of foreign trade into a registration system; it has made clear regulations on the import and export of goods and technology, international trade in services, the order of foreign trade and the protection of intellectual property rights concerned with the order of foreign trade, etc., so as to accelerate its development.
Since joining the WTO, China's overall level of import customs duties decreased from 15.6 percent in 2000 to 10.6 percent in 2004. In 2005 the customs duties further decreased to 10.1 percent. Average duty on industrial products fell to 9.3 percent, on agricultural products to 15.6 percent and on IT products covered under the WTO Information Technology Agreement ("ITA") to zero.