SHANGHAI/BEIJING — China will steeply cut import tariffs for automobiles and car parts, opening up greater access to the world's largest auto market amid an easing of trade tensions with the United States.

Import tariffs will be cut to 15 percent from 25 percent for most vehicles from July 1, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday, adding that this was part of efforts to open up China's markets and spur development of the local auto sector. A small number of imported trucks are taxed at 20 percent currently.

Import tariffs for auto parts would be cut to 6 percent from mostly around 10 percent, the ministry said in a statement.

This move was in conjunction with Washington nearing a decision to lift its ban on U.S. firms supplying Chinese telecoms gear maker ZTE Corp, sources said on Tuesday, further easing trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.

The reprieve for ZTE , hit by a seven-year ban in April that had crippled its operations, could also include China removing tariffs on imported U.S. agricultural products, as well as buying more American farm goods, two people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

China's tariff move will be a major boost to overseas carmakers, especially helping premium brands such as Germany's BMW, electric car maker Tesla and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz close a price gap on local rivals.

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