The customs duty is an important source for the financial revenue of the central government.
In 1951, China drew up and promulgated its first "Rules on Import and Export Customs Tariff." Along with the development of the economy, the state continuously revised the tariff system.
In 1984, the state thoroughly amended the "Rules on Import and Export Customs Tariff."
In March 1985, the State Council issued the "Regulations of Import and Export Tariff of the People's Republic of China" and adopted a new "Regulations on Import and Export Tariff of Customs of the People's Republic of China." Moreover, it adopted the tariff classification catalogs of the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) and a customs pricing system that was more compatible with international world customary trade practice.
In 1987 and 1992, the State Council twice revised the "Regulations of Import and Export Tariff of the People's Republic of China."
Since 1992, China has adopted the international commodity encoding system, which made the tariff classification in China in harmony with the international conventions.
In 1993, the customs houses throughout country continued to carry out reform regarding customs duties, shifting from the practice of national import and export companies turning in taxes in a lump sum to tax levy at the ports. A new taxed value evaluation method was adopted. The method stressed the definition of street value in agreement with the international convention. At the same time, a set of price examination methods, which not only suits China's reality but also guarantee state income, was adopted.
From 1993 to 1997, China lowered its tariff rate on five occasions, and the drop reached 48.6%.
It also adjusted the tax reduction and exemption policies. According to the goal marked by President Jiang Zemin at the Informal APEC Leadership Meeting in Manila in November 1996, by year 2000 China's average level of import duties would be reduced to about 15%.
By October 1997, actually China's average level of import duties had already been reduced to 17% as part of its efforts to expand export.