China's imports of fruits and vegetables from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries rose 41% over 2004, an increase Foreign Affairs College trade expert Fan Ying credited to last year's launch of the China-ASEAN early harvest program (EHP). China's ASEAN agricultural exports actually fell 9.8% over the year, to US$2.12bn in 2004, while ASEAN imports hit US$3.72bn. China Daily reported: "The apparent imbalance resulted from seasonal fluctuations as most of ASEAN's fruit is harvested in the summer," she explained, adding that the gap would likely be made up by July or August this year. Under EHP, China first agreed to allow ASEAN members to taste "early harvest" by reducing tariffs on some 560 agricultural imports from ASEAN from the beginning of last year. An Min, China's vice-minister of commerce, has said tariffs on all 560 items would be removed by 2006.
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