China frees prices of commodities, services in fresh reforms

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has freed prices of 24 commodities and services, removing all price controls on agricultural products, among other reforms, its top economic planning agency said.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued a document last month, letting the market decide prices of tobacco leaves, the last agricultural product previously under the government's price control, it said in the announcement published on its website,, late on Sunday.

The official Xinhua news agency in a report said that China began to liberalise the farm produce market in 1978, and the government has now only retained its regulatory role through state storage programmes, by maintaining minimum prices and giving subsidies on some products.

The NDRC announcement showed that prices of railway bulk cargo, parcels and privately-funded cargo and passenger transport had also been allowed to freely float.

Among others in the latest reforms, prices of domestic air cargo, passenger transport of some airlines, port service fees, such as fees on container loading, ship rubbish treatment and water supply, were also allowed to be set by the market.

The NDRC said the reforms were effective in a slew of documents sent to related parties in November and December, although they were only made public on Sunday.

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