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China decreased import taxes: How Turkey will be affected?

We had a talk with Mr Umut Ergunsü from Pekin University International Affairs Department about decrease of import taxes in China and impacts of this step on Turkey.

Mr Ergunsü, thank you for accepting our invitation. Could we have a few words about you?

I’ve graduated from Tarsus American High School and went on to receive Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Bilkent University. I’ve then studied German in Goethe-Institut, Berlin; Arabic in Jordan University, Amman and Chinese in Beijing Language and Culture University. I received my Master’s Degree in 2013 from Peking University’s School of International Studies with the thesis, written in Chinese, titled “Turkey – China Economic and Trade Relations After Justice and Development Party Came to Power: Achievements and Problems”. Currently, I’m writing my PhD dissertation in Chinese for Peking University’s School of International Studies about the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Eurasia from International Political Economy perspective.

What’s the last step of Chinese Government about import taxes?

China decreased import taxes of some products from 17.3% to 7.7% valid from 1th of December 2017.

Which products are affected?

The products affected from this step are good, health products, medicine, chemicals for daily usage, shoes, hat, furniture..

What lies behind this step?

China was expressing its intention to open its market to foreign trade for a while. China President Xi Jinping emphasized liberal econamy in his speech at Davos. Western countries have been requesting this for a long tim. Trump also stated same thing especially during elections.

Umut Ergunsü

Umut Ergunsü. Photo: Hürriyet Daily News

What will be the impacts of this step on Turkey?

This surely will have positive effects on especially middle-size companies of Turkey since these products are widely produced in Turkey and exported to other countries.

China is investing in railway a lot. What are the impacts of this policy?

China is investing in conventional lines for a long time and on high speed lines in recent years. China has the longest HST network in the world. The cities connected with high speed line are growing faster. People who moved to eastern parts of China are now coming back to their home cities because of this development. As one of the Word Bank ex-officer told, main reason of this movement is high speed train lines.

China also supports rail connections to Europe and SouthWest Asia. What’s the reason of this?

East of China grew very fast after liberalization. Three cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin) have an average GNP of over 17000 per person. However, middle and western parts of China are far from it.

China is willing to connect middle and western parts of China by HST lines and boost economies also there. Railway is now widespread all over the country. Next step is to connect China with Central Asia, West Asia and Europe. China supports rail connections both financially and technologically.

There are several connections via Russia, Caucasus, Iran, etc. Which has the priority at most?

Currently the biggest project is the connection between China and Pakistan. This has a budget over USD 50 billion. When completed, Xinjiang will be connected to port of Gwadar at Pakistan.

Can Kars-Tblisi-Baku be effective?

I believe as regular transports start between Turkey and China, railway will take more share day by day.

But there’s something important. China targets to connect to Europe with high capacity and speed (under 10 days). With this, rail will be the main transport mode among Eurasia countries. Kars-Sivas connection is told to be not high speed rail where 250-300 km/h speed is possible. Thus, I believe, not only rail professionals but also public authorities have to follow the projects of China very closely.

Cover Photo: Onur Uysal ©


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