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Level of import duty to drop further: official(11/21/03)

    China's general import duty level has dropped more than four percentage points since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and the duty will drop further according to its commitments, a senior trade official said in Beijing on Nov.21.

    Yu Guangzhou, vice-minister of Commerce, told visiting Swiss President Pascal Couchepin during a brief meeting that China's average import duty has dropped to 11 percent this year, compared with 15.3 percent before 2001.

    The average import duty for industrial goods, Yu said, has declined to 10.3 percent this year from 14.7 percent before 2001. It will decrease further to 9.3 percent by 2005.

    The import duty on most machinery and mechanical goods will fall to between 5 percent to 10 percent. The duty for some machinery products will drop to zero, said the vice-minister.

    "China has strictly followed its pledges in joining the WTO," said Yu. "The decline of import duty in line with its pledges has opened new opportunities of market access to foreign manufacturers."

    As a result of the duty cut, China's imports of machinery and mechanical goods surged 39 percent from January to September this year, and surpassed 52.2 billion US dollars, or the amount of the whole year of 2002.

    The Chinese vice-minister also stressed China's efforts in protecting intellectual property. He said China's efforts in fighting infringement of copyrights and counterfeiting had intensified.

    China handled a total of 1,442 patent disputes last year, and 1,291 cases among them have closed. It handled another 40,000 cases of infringement of trademark copyright last year.

    "China is determined to protect intellectual property and will continue to strike hard at counterfeiting and piracy according to the law," he said.

    President Couchepin said Switzerland is satisfied with the rapid development of trade and economic cooperation with China. Hesaid China's lowering of import duty will open new business opportunities.

    The Swiss president said he admired the efforts China made in the protection of intellectual property, and that he hoped the twosides can have more cooperation in this regard as well as in finance, insurance, watches, tourism and education.

    Following the meeting, the Chinese vice-minister met with a dozen Swiss entrepreneurs and answered their questions of concern.


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