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New China-Thailand pact set to bear fruit

By YANG WANLI in Bangkok | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-28 09:37
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A vendor checks the ripeness of durian fruit on the side of a rural highway in Yala, Thailand, on Aug 14. MATT HUNT/GETTY IMAGES

China and Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding last week before the start of the annual durian harvest season, to jointly promote tropical fruit exports and guarantee their prices for the benefit of Thai farmers.

About 20,000 metric tons of Thai durians and mangosteens, valued at more than 3 billion baht ($82.44 million), are expected to be exported to China from April to June this year, according to the MoU.

The MoU between the Thai-Chinese Agricultural Import-Export Association and the China Fruit Marketing Association is expected to provide stricter quality control for the fruits being exported. Moreover, the logistics chain will also be improved by utilizing cold chain and frozen technology, among other things.

Thai Minister of Commerce Phumtham Wechayachai said at the signing ceremony at Chanthaburi Province that they will strive to make it more convenient for the Thai fruit trade to operate, and "offer help to support the whole chain of fruit export".

"I've been to China many times and noticed that our Thai durians have received great welcome from Chinese people for their high quality and good taste. And Chanthaburi is now famous in China for both its fresh fruits and gems," he added.

As Thailand's major production base for tropical fruits, Chanthaburi contributed to about 80 percent of the kingdom's annual fruit exports.

A report by the Kasikorn Research Center in Thailand this week noted that Thailand's fresh durian exports to China recorded a 10-fold increase over the past six years, while it is estimated that Thai durian shipments to China will see a year-on-year growth of 12 percent this year.

The increase has been attributed to improved transportation, with Thai durians now transported to China via the China-Lao-Thai Railway. This has reduced the travel time to just four days compared to the previous eight to 10 days via the sea route.

The fresh fruit trade between China and Thailand has also opened up other business opportunities, especially tourism, during harvest season for tropical fruits.

"I believe there will be a great potential to introduce fruit harvest tours to Chinese people," said Pimi Suthanin, whose family runs a durian farm in Chanthaburi's neighboring province Trat.

Pimi, who had spent a year in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region as an exchange student, said that since Thailand is a popular destination for Chinese tourists, "it might be more interesting if we can add durian harvest" to their wish list when they are in the kingdom.

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