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China to slice tariffs on sausages and cheese

China is to reduce import tariffs on a limited range of meat and dairy products as it looks to boost availability of products favoured by the country’s expanding middle class.

The Chinese finance ministry included certain types of sausage and cheese in a list of 187 items that will benefit from the changes, which come into force on December 1.

The ministry said the latest tariff cuts form part of a strategy followed since 2015, which aims to “rationally increase import” in line with changes in consumer demand.

“The reduction of import tariffs focuses on high quality products in short supply domestically and distinctive high end products, which provide more choice to consumer and point the way for transforming and upgrading domestic supply chains,” the ministry explained.

The list cuts average tariffs from 17.3% to 7.7% on a wide range of goods, including not only food items but also health products, clothing and footwear.

When it comes to meat, the ministry is reducing tariffs on blood sausages (HS code 16010010) from 15% to 8%. Chinese imports under this tariff heading were worth little more than EUR200,000 in 2016. More than 90% of these imports came from France. Tariffs are being reduced by the same amount on another sausage line (16010020). Imports under this heading were worth EUR1.9 million 2016. The bulk of this was supplied by South Korea.

The reductions are of far more significance for the dairy industry as they include some high value cheese items. Tariffs on grated or powdered cheeses (HS code 04062000) are being reduced from 12% to 8%. China spent almost EUR100 million on products in this category last year, more than two thirds of which came from New Zealand. Most of the rest came from the US and EU.

Tariffs will be cut by the same amount for processed cheese (HS code 04063000). China spent some EUR64 million on products in this category last year. Leading suppliers included New Zealand, EU, US and Australia.

The same reductions are being applied to cheese products under HS code 04064000. Imports in this category were worth EUR89 million last year, with Australia leading the way, ahead of the EU, New Zealand and US. Meanwhile, tariffs for blue cheese (HS code 04064000) have been cut from 15% to 8%.

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