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China's Consumption Upgrading Benefits the World
 
Xinsha Customs in Dongguan, south China's Guangdong Province, has seen a surge in customs declaration of imported automobiles since July.
As one of the busiest port for vehicle imports in southern China, Xinsha has set a new record of customs declaration of nearly 15,000 vehicles on a single day this month.

"We have taken new measures to speed up customs clearance," said Wei Xiangyu, an official with Xinsha Customs.

The major driver behind the surge is China's reduction of automobile tariffs since July.

China imports over 1 million vehicles a year and the tariff slashing was estimated to be a bonus package of 45 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) for Chinese customers.

"The tariff cut is a concrete impetus to the market," said Xiao Yaofei, a professor with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.

In addition, China has slashed tariffs on 1,500 types of consumer goods and exempted duties on 28 types of drugs this year.

China's imports of goods grew 11.5 percent in the January-June period, compared with 4.6 percent growth for exports, according to the General Administration of Customs.

The stronger import growth is an encouraging sign for a global market in the shadow of protectionism.

"Expanding imports can boost domestic demand and exports of quality products and services of other countries," said Gu Xueming, head of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

"What's more, China's move has sent a more positive signal for the global economy as it can serve as a hedge against the anti-globalization force," said Gu.

China's domestic consumption is in transition with growing purchasing power of consumers, and the measures to boost imports would benefit both small and large countries and businesses.

Xu Bing, spokesman of Canton Fair and deputy director of China Foreign Trade Center, said food and consumer goods from over 100 countries and regions have taken center stage of the international pavilion at the country's largest trade fair.

"Not only developed countries and multinational companies, but also developing countries and small- and medium-sized businesses benefit from China's imports," said Xu.

Li Kaiyi, an official with the Guangdong Sub-Administration of China Customs, said Guangdong has seen fast growth in imports of various goods in the first half of the year: 26 percent growth for fruits, 79 percent growth for aquatic products and 200 percent growth for cosmetics.

"As more Chinese experience consumption upgrading, China's measures to expand imports of quality products could help them meet demands for a better life," said Li.

One of Chile's largest fruit growers and exporters, Gesex has seen rising sales to China over the past years.

Gonzalo Matamala, president of Gesex China, said he expected more fruit to be brought to Chinese consumers' tables following big-selling cherries and nectarines. Dealers can apply for customs declaration before the fruit arrives and quick customs clearance helps more fresh fruits reach customers.

Guangdong has seen cherry imports up 170 percent so far this year.

More direct flights, faster customs clearance and improved cold chain logistics have made it possible to bring eels, crabs and shrimps from Bangladesh and Egypt to the tables of Chinese diners, said Xu Zhenhan, secretary general of Shenzhen Association of Aquatic Animals and Products Importers and Exporters.

"The prices are reasonable and customers can afford them," said Xu.

In the short term, the tariff cuts could hurt China's garment industry, particularly the high-end brands, said Zhou Lun, executive vice president of Guangdong Association of Garment and Garment Article Industry.

But in the long run, the consumption upgrading could help upgrade the whole industrial chain, said Zhou.

"Meanwhile, expanding imports could help optimize the supply chain and promote intelligent manufacturing and thus push Chinese firms to churn out better products for both domestic and overseas markets," Zhou added.

(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2018)
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