Economic Watch: China delivers on promise to expand imports

China fulfilled its commitment to increase imports in 2019 amid rising tides of protectionism, boosting domestic economic expansion and offering a beacon of hope for multinationals that had suffered from low profit growth in other parts of the world, reports XinhuaS.
China has been shifting from an investment-driven model to a more domestic consumption-powered economy over the years. Consumption continued to play an increasingly important role in driving economic growth, contributing 60.5 percent of GDP growth in the first nine months of 2019.

"Expanding imports will be conducive to fostering new growth areas in consumer spending, and accelerating the transformation of the country's economic development model," said Zhang Fei, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
In a bid to further meet booming domestic demand, the country lowered or canceled import duties on certain products from Jan. 1, 2020.The import tax on frozen pork, for instance, was cut from 12 percent to 8 percent in a bid to increase domestic supplies.

The country eliminated the tariff on pharmaceutical products containing alkaloids for asthma treatment as well as raw materials for the production of new diabetes medicines to reduce medication costs and promote the production of new medicines. China also slashed the duties on imported fruits and juice to offer more choices for consumers. ROBUST DEMAND FOR HIGH-END GOODS

Riding on the success of robust economic growth over the past four decades, Chinese consumers have shown burgeoning demand for quality goods and comfortable lifestyles. Retail sales, a main gauge of consumption, increased 8 percent year on year in the first 11 months of last year.
"Affluent consumers are willing to spend," said Gan Chunhui, vice president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Some consumers perceive foreign goods as being higher in quality than those produced domestically, a main reason behind the soaring demand for imported products.

"In the short term, boosting imports is an effective way to close the gap between domestic demand for high-end goods and the country's actual supply capacity," Gan added.