China to gradually lower export-related taxes to zero

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will steadily cut export-related taxes to “zero” and raise financial support for exporters to avert another sharp drop in external demand, the commerce minister said in an interview published Monday.

Commerce Minister Chen Deming told the Study Times newspaper that despite the recent abrupt drop in China’s exports, broader, long-term trade trends remained in its favour.

“We should have ample confidence, seize opportunities to advance and lift our share of the international market,” Chen told the Chinese-language weekly newspaper issued by the ruling Communist Party’s Central Party School.

“Strive by all means to maintain stable export growth and prevent a dramatic fall in external demand.”

To achieve that goal, Chen said, the government would “according to international rules steadily restore zero tax rates for export products,” while ensuring high-energy and resource-consuming exports remain curtailed.

In order to encourage exporters, China has increased rebates of value added taxes on textiles, garments and other exports and also reduced or removed export taxes for some steel products as well as corn.

The commerce minister said the government would also “enhance levels of support” to help ease exporters’ financing difficulties.

Chen’s comments added to a recent stream of claims from Beijing that, despite an abrupt slowing of growth and exports over past months, the country is set to emerge from the global slump sooner and stronger than other major economies.

China’s exports in January fell 17.5 percent and imports tumbled 43.1 percent from year-earlier levels. And port container volume in February fell 17 percent from a year earlier, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, indicating a persistent slowdown in the country’s export sector.

But Chen insisted that China was positioned for a rebound.

“Our country’s export goods make up less than 9 percent of the world total... There is a strong possibility of increasing this share,” Chen said.

Manufacturing capacity would continue shifting to Asia and developed countries would provide “key technology, advanced products and services” that will boost China’s efforts to produce more high-tech exports, Chen said.

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Nick Macfie