China cuts import tariffs on food, drugs and apparel

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China on Friday said it will cut import tariffs on consumer products ranging from meats and whisky to deodorant and cashmere clothes, as part of a drive to lower costs and help stimulate consumer spending at home.

The move, which takes effect on Dec. 1, will see deep cuts to import tariffs on 187 imported products. High taxes on imports have traditionally pushed up the price of foreign brands in China and caused consumers to spend more overseas.

After the cut, tariffs on the consumer products - which include food, health supplements, pharmaceuticals, garments and recreational products - will average 7.7 percent, down from the current 17.3 percent, the Ministry of Finance said on its website.

“People’s consumption demands are ever increasing,” the finance ministry said. “(The tax cuts) will benefit the choices available to consumers domestically, and help upgrade the domestic supply system.”

In recent years, China has cut import tax rates on products including cosmetics and apparel in a bid to spur domestic spending as Beijing eyes a longer-term shift towards a consumption-driven economy.

Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Editing by Richard Borsuk