By Du Haitao, Wang Ke, Li Lili, and Luo Shanshan, People’s Daily
In the first 11months of 2018, China’s total imports of commodities exceeded $ 1.97 trillion, a year-on-year growth of 18.4 percent, according to statistics from the country’s General Administration of Customs (GAC).
In recent years, China has taken proactive actions to expand opening-up and marked significant achievements.
China’s imports of goods stood at $1.84 trillion in 2017, 6.2 times of those in 2002 – the first year after the country’s accession to the WTO. In the same year,its imports of services reached $467.6 billion and the deficit $239.5 billion, which were respectively 10.1 and 798.3 times of those in 2002.
China has become the world’s second largest importer of goods and the second largest importer of services, whose annual import value of goods and services account for about 1/10 of the world total.
Zhao Ping, director of the international trade research department under the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that currently, China is undergoing accelerated consumption upgrade, expanding group of middle-income earners and growing diversity of consumption demand.
The overseas consumption of Chinese residents saw double-digit average annual growth during the past decade. The reasonable expansion of high-quality consumption and imports of services are conducive to enriching people’s consumption choices at home, the backflow of overseas consumption, and satisfying people’s individualized, diversified, and differentiated consumption demand.
Long Guoqiang, vice president of the Development Research Center of the State Council, said China, as the world’s second largest economy, the biggest industrial country, and the largest holder of foreign exchange reserves, enjoy huge potential in consumption market.
Through proactively expanding opening-up, China is able to deliver its development outcomes and dividends to the world. It is an important step for China to shoulder its international obligations and improve international relations, reflecting China’s image as a responsible great power.
Against the rising trade protectionism and challenges to the multilateral trade system, China’s active expansion of opening-up and the sharing of its development opportunities with the world are also concrete actions to promote peace and development and build a community of shared future for mankind.
China will import over $ 10 trillion worth of goods and services in the next five years, creating new opportunities for global enterprises. A common focus of foreign brands comes along with this message: what products will be needed in the future Chinese market?
GAC data indicated that daily chemical products, as well as formula milk powder were two categories that made major contribution to the growth of imported consumer goods in 2017. The consumption of the two kinds of products respectively grew by 48.6 and 40.4 percent.
The consumption of food such as meat and home facilities such as electronics & electrical appliances, dropped by 3.8 and 23.4 percent respectively.
The differences of the amount and growth among various categories of imported products reflected the changes of China’s social environment and demographic structure, said an expert with China Chamber of International Commerce.
Other factors, including the two-child policy, consumption upgrade, industrial transformation, and new business modes driven by the Internet also impacted China’s imports of consumer goods.
In addition, instead of blindly pursuing foreign products, Chinese consumers are nowadays considering more about the safety, raw materials, quality, and design of imported products when it comes to their selection of commodities.
Specifically, imports of food such as aquatic products and health care products, apparel products such as sports shoes, maternal and child products such as infant milk powder and complementary food, electronics & electrical products such as photographic equipment, electric toothbrushes and robot cleaners, and horologe such as watches are enjoying a broader space for development.
China’s efforts to expand imports are obvious to all. After successive adjustments, the general duty level has been cut from 9.8 percent last year to 7.5 percent in 2018, an average reduction of 23 percent.
Additionally, through optimizing business environment at ports and facilitating cross-border trade, the country is expected to reduce the time of customs clearance by 1/3 from that in the previous year by the end of 2018, and by half by the end of 2021.