Yuxi Hongta Tobacco Group struck up a cooperation agreement with UK-based Imperial Tobacco Group. The agreement will allow the Yunnan province-based company to make and sell Imperial West brand cigarettes in Shanghai and Kunming, Yunnan province. Last year, import tariffs on cigarettes were reduced from 65% to 25% and this year regulators have begun to relax restrictions on the sale of non-Chinese cigarettes in the mainland. Analysts said that US and European tobacco companies will likely show growing interest in forming joint ventures in China, which has an estimated 350 million smokers.
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