China will cut import tariffs on consumer goods,

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will cut import tariffs on a range of consumer items including apparel, cosmetics, home appliances, and fitness products starting from July 1, the state council, or cabinet, said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: China's Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Pool

The decision, which was announced after a state council meeting led by Premier Li Keqiang, aims to further open China’s consumer market, will force its industries to upgrade and boost competitiveness, the government said in a statement.

Import tariffs for apparel, footwear and headgear, kitchen supplies and fitness products will be more than halved to 7.1 percent from 15.9 percent, with those on washing machines and refrigerators slashed to just 8 percent, from 20.5 percent now.

Tariffs will also be cut on processed foods such as aquaculture and fishing products and mineral water, from 15.2 percent to 6.9 percent.

Cosmetics, such as skin and hair products, and some medical and health products, will also benefit from a tariff cut to 2.9 percent from 8.4 percent, the government said in the statement on its official website.

It did not give details of what medical and health products were covered.

Beijing has pledged to take steps to increase imports amid rising tension with some of its biggest trade partners, such as the United States.

On Wednesday, China’s commerce ministry said the U.S. delegation had arrived in Beijing and the teams from both countries would discuss on coming up with a consensus over the next few days.

In December, China cut import taxes on almost 200 consumer products including food, health supplements, pharmaceuticals, garments and recreational goods to 7.7 percent, on average, from 17.3 percent, according to the finance ministry.

The tariff cuts will also benefit global brands looking to increase their presence in China, particularly in cities in its hinterland.

Reporting by Se Young Lee and Yawen Chen; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Clarence Fernandez