Across China: Robust durian imports boost China-Vietnam trade

NANNING, Dec. 11– As China’s largest durian-import port in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Youyiguan used to handle durians imported mainly from Thailand. However, since gaining market access to China last year, fresh durians from Vietnam are now quickly catching up. Nong Liqing, the general manager of an import and export company based in…

NANNING, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — As China’s largest durian-import port in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Youyiguan used to handle durians imported mainly from Thailand. However, since gaining market access to China last year, fresh durians from Vietnam are now quickly catching up.

Nong Liqing, the general manager of an import and export company based in Pingxiang City of Guangxi, where the vibrant land port is located, swiftly coordinated the transportation of the durians to her clients in the neighboring Guangdong Province and east China’s Zhejiang Province.

“We had imported over 1,600 containers of durians this year by December. Besides Thailand, we have started to import durians from Vietnam this year,” said Nong, adding that over a dozen containers of durians are currently imported daily.

China’s appetite for the pricy tropical fruit is enormous. Last year, China imported 825,000 tonnes of durians. The durian import value ranked first among China’s imported fruits, reaching 4.03 billion U.S. dollars, according to customs data.

Last year, Vietnamese durians, known for their longer harvest season and lower prices, gained market access to China under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) framework. China is currently Vietnam’s main durian export market.

“A decade ago, fruits from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries like durian, mangosteen, and golden coconut were rare in China, but now they can be seen in fruit stalls in almost every big Chinese city at increasingly affordable prices,” said Wang Zhengbo, president of a Guangxi-based fruit company.

Jumping onto the bandwagon of Vietnamese durian imports, Wang’s company last year signed contracts with Vietnamese durian farms covering nearly 3,000 hectares.

“We plan to import more than 3,000 containers, or 60,000 tonnes, of Vietnamese durians this year to cater to the demand of the Chinese market,” Wang said.

“Durian is one of the most popular fruits in China, with strong consumer demand and huge market potential,” said Đồng Quang Hải, a Vietnamese businessman who has planted durians in Vietnam for a dozen years.

Today, Youyiguan Port has become the busiest and most convenient land port for border exchanges between China and Vietnam. As of Tuesday, the entry-exit border inspection station at the Youyiguan Port has handled 400,000 vehicles entering and leaving this year, an increase of 122 percent year on year.

“Youyiguan Port is the largest land port for Vietnam’s fruit exports to China, with nearly 300 trucks transporting durian, dragon fruit, jackfruit, and other Vietnamese fruits for customs clearance every day during peak time,” Tang Shan, chief of the Youyiguan Port Customs said, adding that although it is the off-season for durians recently, more than 30 containers of Vietnamese durians are imported via the port every day.

“We started to import durian from Vietnam last year. Durian is the best seller among other imported fruits. We sell the fruit offline and online, and then they will be sold all across the country,” said Fang Chuangquan, a fruit seller in Pingxiang.

Data from Nanning Customs showed that from January to October this year, the value of goods imported from Vietnam through the Youyiguan Port totaled 91.44 billion yuan (about 12.85 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 271.8 percent year on year. Among them, the import of Vietnamese fruits was 11.71 billion yuan, an increase of 637.9 percent. The import value of durian totaled 11.19 billion yuan, an increase of 3,084.2 percent.

With the approval of entry of various agricultural products from Vietnam to China and quality vegetables and fruits from Guangxi entering the Vietnamese market, bilateral trade in agricultural products on the border between China and Vietnam has continued to flourish.

Apart from Youyiguan Port, Hekou Port in southwest China’s Yunnan Province has also become a popular durian-import port in China since it was approved for durian import in April this year.

Fu Jing, a fruit merchant from southwest China’s Guizhou Province, has been engaged in the fruit import trade for more than 10 years. Recently, durian from Vietnam has become her new choice. “Thai durians are generally ripe in the first half of the year, while Vietnamese durians, which mature in the second half of the year, have filled the market vacancy well,” Fu said.

“In addition, the convenient customs clearance process at the port is also an important reason for us to choose Vietnamese durians,” Fu added.

Yao Qi, a policewoman at the Hekou entry-exit border inspection station, said that the substantial increase in durian imports has brought more people to the port. Many companies have set up branches or offices in the county where the port is located.

Currently, the port sees about 700 vehicles entering and leaving on average daily. It has set up a green channel, especially for rapid customs clearance of agricultural and sideline products, and has continuously optimized the customs clearance process, according to Yao. Enditem