China says to cut auto import tariffs on July 1


Beijing (AFP)

China will cut tariffs on most imported cars to 15 percent from July 1, the finance ministry said on Tuesday following a thaw in trade tensions with the United States.

The planned reduction in import duties from 25 percent is a boon for international automakers but may come short of fulfilling US President Donald Trump's expectations of matching US tariffs of 2.5 percent.

The announcement came days after Vice Premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin led negotiations in Washington that ended with an agreement to pull back from the brink of a trade war.

President Xi Jinping said in April that China would "considerably lower" tariffs on cars by the end of the year as part of a range of measures seen as an olive branch to Trump with the two countries embroiled in the trade spat.

The cut to 15 percent will likely be welcomed by automakers selling cars in China, with Toyota importing its Lexus brand and American giant Ford shipping in most of its Lincolns.

Earlier this year, China also announced plans to liberalise foreign ownership limits in the sector, which had forced most foreign carmakers into joint ventures with China's state-owned companies.

China currently restricts foreign auto firms to a maximum 50 percent ownership of joint ventures with local companies.

But the changes will end shareholding limits for new energy vehicle firms as soon as this year, followed by commercial vehicles in 2020 and passenger cars in 2022.