China said Monday it plans to slash tariffs as of Jan. 1 on more than 850 products including frozen pork, asthma and diabetes medications and some high-tech components to better develop its economy.
The moves announced by the Finance Ministry on Monday follow a preliminary agreement between Beijing and Washington on resolving a trade war that has rattled financial markets and added to pressures on global growth.
“The step is intended to promote the co-ordinated development of trade and environment,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Xinhua and other state media said the temporary import tariffs would be reduced to levels lower than most-favoured-nation rates.
Beijing has adopted a string of market-opening measures and tariff cuts meant to help revive economic growth that slowed to a three-decade low of 6% in the latest quarter.
The Finance Ministry said the new tariff cuts would mainly apply to products in short supply and to foreign products for daily use.
The government has been seeking to cool surging pork prices and boost imports as China contends with an epidemic of African swine fever that has decimated its pork supplies. Reducing tariffs on some types of semiconductors would help high-tech industries that the ruling Communist Party wants to become world leaders.
The government also promised Monday to open its oil, telecom and power markets wider to private competitors as the ruling Communist Party tries to shore up growth in the slowing, state-dominated economy.
The Cabinet said it would give private companies equal treatment with state-owned enterprises in more industries. The announcement gave no details of ownership limits or other possible restrictions on private companies or whether foreign investors would be allowed. It said a timetable was being developed.
The statement promised to “introduce market competition” in key industries including power, telecoms, railways, oil and natural gas. It said private enterprises would be allowed for the first time to carry out basic telecoms services and invest in power generation and distribution.
Beijing has ended restrictions on full foreign ownership in electric car manufacturing and says that will extend to the whole auto industry by 2021. Regulators also have promised to allow full foreign ownership in banking, insurance and other finance businesses.