Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says China aims to complete talks on a code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea within three years. AFP
Agence France-Presse

China’s Premier Li Keqiang, on Tuesday, delivered a work report to the national parliament, detailing the country’s economic and social development plans for 2019.

At the opening of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature in Beijing, Premier Li said the government is targeting GDP growth of 6.0 to 6.5 percent in 2019, down from a target of around 6.5 percent growth in 2018.

To shore up its slowing economy, Li said China plans billions of dollars tax cuts and general expenditures, and removal of restrictions on market access for foreign investments.

He said the government plans to cut nearly 2 trillion yuan ($298.31 billion) in taxes and fees for companies.

Value-added tax (VAT) for the manufacturing sector would be sliced to 13 percent from 16 percent, while VAT for the transport and construction sectors will be cut to 9 percent from 10 percent, he said.

Premier Li told the almost 3,000 delegates that the environment facing China’s development this year was more complicated and more severe.

“There will be more risks and challenges that are either predictable or unpredictable and we must be fully prepared for a tough battle,” he said.

China also promised to promote international cooperation under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the government work plan said.

To ensure that the cooperation produces more results, Li said China and other partner countries would address key problems such as those related to financial support, investment environments, risk management and security.

He also noted China’s efforts in promoting balanced development of foreign trade, saying the country plans to increase imports of advanced technology and equipment, energy and resources in short supply and agricultural products.

“We will further reduce the customs clearance time, lower compliance costs for imports and exports,” Li said.

China, he said, would accelerate work on formulating regulations on Chinese firms’ overseas operations to improve services.

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