Premier Li says China, Canada begin exploratory talks on free trade agreement

Li made the remarks when meeting with journalists together with his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, after the two leaders attended the signing ceremony of a series of bilateral cooperation documents.

“We have reached many new consensuses in economic and trade area,” said Li, adding that China is willing to import frozen beef from Canada, and the two sides have reached an agreement on Canada’s canola exports to China.

Li also said that the two sides discussed cooperation in finance, tourism and law enforcement, as well as between their local governments.

“The exchange of visits within one month showed that China-Canada relations are entering a new stage,” said Li who referred to Trudeau’s recent official visit to China, adding that “it’s rare in the bilateral ties, and conforms to the interests of both countries as well as the expectations of the international community.”

Li arrived in Ottawa on September 14, 2016. His visit to Canada is the first by a Chinese premier in 13 years.

The Chinese premier said the two sides agreed that China and Canada have broad common interests and sound cooperation. The development of the bilateral ties is in the interests of both Chinese and Canadian people as well as the world’s peace and stability.

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Tariff cut on IT products to push China’s industrial innovation

BEIJING (Xinhua) — China’s decision to cut tariffs on a wide range of technology products would help push the country’s industrial innovation, analysts pointed out.

On September 22, 2016, China, the world’s largest IT products exporter, started cutting import duties on 201 IT products covered by the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), a global technology trade pact under the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to the Ministry of Finance.

The products include integrated circuits, touch screens, semiconductors and medical devices. The government also promised to reduce tariffs to zero on these products within seven years.

In 2015, over 50 countries, including China, reached an agreement at a WTO meeting in Nairobi, Kenya to begin implementing their tariff commitments to the ITA by July 1, 2016, while the timetable is subject to the completion of each country’s domestic procedural requirements.

China’s legislature passed a bill in September 2016 to ratify an amendment to the ITA.

“The ratification and implementation of the amendment will be in the interests of China’s drive to build an open economic system and to accelerate the development of domestic IT industry amid international competition and cooperation,” said the National People’s Congress Foreign Affairs Committee in a review report to the lawmakers.

The move meant that China would play a bigger role in participating in global resources relocation and move higher in the global industrial value chain thanks to lower import costs, according to Bai Ming, a researcher with the think tank of the Ministry of Commerce.

Global trade of the 201 IT products is valued at US$1.3 trillion, which is approximately 10% of total world trade. China’s foreign trade volume of the goods is approximately one-quarter of the amount, according to Lou Jiwei, head of the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council. For more information, click on the following link:

China lifts ban on U.S. beef products

On September 22, 2016, Chinese authorities announced the conditional lifting of a 13-year import ban on some U.S. boneless beef and beef on the bone.

The removal of the ban applies to cattle that are under 30 months old, according to a joint statement issued on September 22, 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The authorities said China would allow imports of beef that comply with China’s traceability and quarantine requirements.

China has banned imports of most U.S. beef since 2003, partly due to the concerns over the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as “mad cow disease.” The lifting of the ban will be subject to the completion of detailed quarantine requirements, which will be announced at a later date, the statement said.

On September 20, 2016, Premier Li Keqiang told business groups in New York that China would soon resume imports of U.S. beef.

Li’s remark regarding Chinese shoppers soon having a greater choice of beef sparked a rally in U.S. cattle futures, which closed at just under 1% higher at US$1.085 per pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on September 21, 2016.

U.S. cattle futures fell to a six-year low in September 2016 as supplies have expanded in the country, with a glut of cold storage beef, and China offers a potential outlet, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In the first six months of 2016, China imported 295,721 metric tons of beef, jumping 60.8% year-on-year. The value of imported beef reached US$1.3 billion, up 48.3% year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Because of rising feed prices, limited grazing land and the breeding cycle, China’s cattle-raising sector lags behind consumer demand, resulting in higher beef prices in the past five years, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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