Increase in fresh fruit exports to China expected due to improved land transport flow

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Exports of fresh fruit to China are expected to surge by at least 10% this year, thanks to improved land transport flow and better cross-border trade facilitation. Commerce Permanent Secretary Keerati Rushchano revealed that land border transportation for fresh fruit is predicted to rise significantly in the coming months, with durian making up about 80-90% of the transported produce.

Fresh fruit exports to China are estimated to reach 2.5 million tonnes, valued at US$5.59 billion, this year. Land border transport difficulties held back fruit exports in 2022, especially during China’s strict Covid-19 control measures. Consequently, fruit exports to China amounted to only 2.25 million tonnes, increasing 2.7% from the previous year, but their value decreased by 2.5%, from US$5.17 billion in 2021 to US$5.04 billion in 2022.

Keerati recently led a team of senior Commerce Ministry officials to examine fruit transport routes and procedures at Huu Nghi international checkpoint and Dong Dang railway station in Lang Son province, Vietnam. The visit aimed to boost preparations for the anticipated rise in domestic fruit production from April to August.

The Commerce Ministry has engaged in discussions with senior officials in Lang Son province to seek their cooperation in exporting Thai fruits via the border and cross-border trade at Huu Nghi checkpoint and Dong Dang station. These checkpoints serve as critical transit points for transporting Thai fruit to China’s Youyi Guan checkpoint.

The Dong Dang railway checkpoint links to China’s Pingxiang railway checkpoint, approximately 171 kilometres from Hanoi and just over one kilometre from the Huu Nghi checkpoint. Thailand relies on this railway checkpoint to export predominantly durian to the Chinese market. In 2022, during the fruit season, around 10-20 containers of durian were transported to China daily via this railway checkpoint.

Commerce Ministry data reveals that China imported fruit worth US$14.6 billion in 2022, with Thailand being the top exporter. The five most imported fruits by China were Cavendish bananas, young coconut, durian, dragon fruit, and longan. Last year, China purchased 95% of its durians from Thailand and imported 523,000 tonnes of young coconuts.

Thailand exports fruit to China primarily through three channels: by sea (51%), by land (48%), and by air (0.54%). Land transport is the preferred route for Thai exporters due to lower costs. This year, the ministry has set a target for fresh and processed fruit exports to reach 4.44 million tonnes, a 10% increase in both quantity and value from the previous year’s figure of 4.04 million tonnes worth 263 billion baht.

Keerati affirmed that the ministry is proactively addressing land border transportation issues for fresh fruits, anticipating their growth as export volumes increase in the future. The ministry proposes establishing a working group involving Thailand, Vietnam, and China to discuss and resolve transportation challenges, with direct communication via an official hotline for streamlined problem-solving.

Doan Thu Ha, Vice-Chairman of the People’s Committee of Lang Son, confirmed that the province has accepted the proposal to form a trilateral working group to tackle cross-border goods transportation problems and explore ways to enhance trade and investment cooperation between Thailand and Vietnam.

Chaichan Chareonsuk, Chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, expects land transportation of fresh fruit to significantly increase this year, following a return to normalcy. He highlights the Commerce Ministry’s active collaboration with the private sector and relevant agencies to streamline cross-border transportation, which Chaichan believes is essential for maintaining the quality of fresh fruit exports, reports Bangkok Post.

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