The zero-tariff treatment China had granted for six least-developed African countries officially took effect on Monday. Experts and industry players noted that the move will bolster trade between China and Africa while showing a demonstration effect for China’s cooperation with other markets.
The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council, China’s cabinet, announced on December 6 that 98 percent of taxable products from Angola, The Gambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Mali and Mauritania would be exempt from import tariffs starting on Monday.
Sarah Wang, executive director of Beijing Wise Century Trading Co, which sells a range of African products, told the Global Times on Monday that such measures will have a huge implication for trade between these countries and China.
“With zero tariffs, these countries could expand the sales channels for their local produce, find new ways to generate foreign exchange reserves and create jobs,” Wang said.
The implementation of the tax break is a significant move contributing to fulfilling the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, and realize its responsibility under the WTO-led Aid for Trade Initiative, Song Wei, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Song said that elevating trade is a key tool that will enhance Africa’s self-development and further integration into global supply chains.
Over the past two years, 21 African countries have benefited from China’s elimination of tariffs on 98 percent of their taxable products, according to media reports.
The commission said that the move aims to embody the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, and facilitate a high-quality China-Africa community with a shared future. In the next step, China will expand its zero-tariff treatment to all the least-developed countries with which it has established diplomatic relations, according to the commission.
In addition to boosting bilateral trade, the zero-tariff treatment will help African countries with their post-pandemic economic recoveries, He Wenping, a senior research fellow in the African Studies Section under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.
The tax exemption is also a major implementation of China’s commitments made at the 8th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in 2021, including further increasing the scope of products enjoying zero-tariff treatment for the least-developed countries having diplomatic relations with China, Shen Shiwei, a non-resident research fellow of the Institute of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Observers said that the tax exemption will bolster trade, especially for the booming agricultural sector, while promoting more high-quality African products to enter the Chinese market at more competitive prices.
China’s agricultural imports from Africa have increased markedly, with an average annual growth rate of 11.4 percent in recent years, according to the China-Africa Economic and Trade Relationship Report 2023 released by China Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, an institution under the Ministry of Commerce.
China remained Africa’s second-largest export destination for agricultural products in 2022, with total imports worth $5.20 billion.
The export volume of agricultural products from Madagascar, Mali and Mauritania to China remains relatively good, so the tax exemption policy is beneficial for these countries, Tang Lixia, professor at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times on Monday.
For China, new sources of agricultural imports can beef up food security and diversify its import sources, and the yuan’s internationalization will also gain momentum, Wang said.
The 98 percent of taxable products cover a wide range of food commodities from coffee, palm oil, seafood and spices to non-food crops such as sisal and rubber, according to media reports.
Moreover, these six countries are rich in resources. For instance, the DRC is an important producer of cobalt while Angola is major exporter of crude oil and diamonds, per the reports.
China-Africa trade in the first 11 months of the year totaled 1.81 trillion yuan ($253.65 billion), a year-on-year increase of 7 percent, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
Experts said that the zero-tariff treatment will have a demonstration effect on China’s exchanges with other markets, especially the Global South countries.
China’s zero-tariff treatment covering more products from African countries also provides a good reference for China to cooperate with other countries of the Global South, especially the least-developed countries and especially in policy connection and technical cooperation, Shen noted.
Song said that the trade structures of China and countries of the Global South are similar to that of Africa, which is dominated by the import and export of primary products, and cooperating with China can help these countries to optimize their product supply capacity and further integrate into global industry chains.
Source: Global Times