BEIJING - China will "actively" encourage automobile imports over the next five years through a series of favorable policies as the nation expands imports to better balance its economy, said an official with the Ministry of Commerce.
The ministry is planning an automobile import promotion strategy with the Ministry of Finance and the General Administration of Customs to restructure and strengthen the nation's auto industry during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), said Qian Jingfen, an official with the Ministry's Department of Mechanic, Electronic and High-Tech Industry, at an automobile import forum in Beijing on Sunday.
The draft strategy, which is entering the final discussion, will focus on encouraging imports of advanced general automobile technologies and equipments, and key technologies and parts of energy-saving and new-energy vehicles through financial, taxation and trade policies, said Qian.
To promote imports of vehicle parts, the ministry decided to transfer the management of automatic import licensing of 16 auto components, including chassis, brakes and drive axles, to provincial governments, starting from Jan 1, which will make such imports easier, analysts said.
Customs statistics show that in the first 10 months, China imported 645,500 vehicles with a total value of $24 billion. The whole-year figure is expected to reach 80,000 units, almost double that of last year.
Compared with expected total automobile sales of 18 million units in the nation, imported vehicles only accounted for no more than 5 percent of the whole market.
According to a report released by China Automobile Trading Co Ltd, China's imported vehicle segment will grow by 20 percent next year, higher than the overall industry, with SUVs (sports-utility vehicles) being the major driver of that growth, occupying half of the imported sector.
Analysts said that the strategy plan will definitely help China to achieve its target of strengthening its automobile industry, especially in the new-energy and energy-saving sector, after the country overtook the United States as the world's biggest vehicle market in 2009, as more automakers will consider bringing their technologies and equipments to the fast-growing market.
German vehicle supplier Daimler Group has gone one step ahead in the sector, by setting up a 600 million yuan joint venture this March with Chinese automaker BYD Co, to develop an electric vehicle specifically for the requirements of the Chinese market, with a planned release date of 2013.
The company is also considering bringing its electric smart car to Chinese consumers next year .