Thai processed sugar exports to China surge due to ACFTA

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post.

Thai exports to China, particularly those of processed sugar items including syrup, artificial honey, and various sweeteners, have seen a significant surge, courtesy of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).

Over the past decade, Thailand has witnessed a yearly growth of 145% in processed sugar exports to China, as reported by the Foreign Trade Department.

Ronnarong Phoolpipat, the director-general of the department, shared that China is the primary export market for Thai agricultural products, accounting for 42% of the overall shipments. High-demand products include processed sugars, excluding raw sugar, such as syrup, artificial honey, caramel, and other sweeteners that find use in food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals, reported Bangkok Post.

In 2023, China imported processed sugar worth US$983 million (31.4 billion baht). Thailand held a dominant position in China’s import market, with a total value of US$854 million (29.8 billion baht), which amounts to 86.9% of China’s imports. The import volume from Thailand to China saw a year-on-year growth of 103%.

According to Ronnarong, the trade benefits under ACFTA, including zero import taxes for processed sugar when certified with a certificate of origin (Form E) issued by the Foreign Trade Department, have been key contributors to Thailand’s export dominance in this category. Without ACFTA benefits, the normal import customs duty, also known as the ‘most-favoured nation rate’, would stand at 30%.

In 2023, Thai businesses sought Form E certification for processed sugar from the Foreign Trade Department to claim preferential rights and exempt import taxes valued at US$833 million (29.1 billion baht), indicating a utilisation rate of 97.6%.

Ronnarong positioned processed sugar as a high-potential product for Thai exporters, who can leverage benefits from free trade agreements to expand their global market presence.

“In addition to the Chinese market, ASEAN is a high-potential market for Thai processed sugar as its population exceeds 600 million. Thai processed sugar is in demand, particularly in the food and beverage industry.”

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