• China announced tariff cuts on 187 products—including baby powdered milk, avocados and mineral water—effective December 1, 2017. (See Financial Times (subscription required) and S. News.) The import tariffs will average 7.7%, down from the current 17.3%. In addition to foods, the reduced tariffs will impact selected health supplements, pharmaceuticals, clothing items, shoes and other consumer goods.
  • The reductions in tariffs are being made in response to increased demand for quality goods that cannot currently be met domestically, explained China’s Finance Ministry in making the announcement. Additional benefits from the lower tariffs, suggested by Lu Zhengwei, an Economist with Industrial Bank in Shanghai, include consumers will be more likely to buy foreign goods from Chinese retailers instead of purchasing them while traveling abroad, which also could help generate jobs in China.
  • China faces pressure from the United States and other trading partners to allow better access to its growing markets. As reported on this blog in June, the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that formally established a registration process for U.S. food manufacturers that export milk and milk products, seafood, infant formula, and/or formula for young children to China. The U.S. Dairy Export Council reported that the MOU will increase access to China for more than 200 U.S. dairy exporters in the short-term and sets the stage for additional American companies to tap into the lucrative Chinese market going forward.
  • China reported a $510 billion global trade surplus last year. The tariff reductions to occur December 1, are relatively small and it is unclear how they will affect China’s trade balance.