High-quality or premium-grade products from Thailand are now in great demand in China, a market that has great potential.
Speaking during his official visit to China from 1 to 5 July 2012, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, pointed out that, since Thai farmers were selling their agricultural products at relatively low prices domestically, the Government should help them sell directly to Chinese importers so as to ensure greater benefits for farmers in lieu of the role played by the middlemen.
The Foreign Minister was informed about the difficulties and problems encountered by Chinese entrepreneurs in conducting business with Thailand. A key issue was that of transportation time, which affected the quality and freshness of products. For instance, it took some four days to transport longan from farmers in Thailand to the market in China. The severe flooding in Thailand last year also affected the production of Thai fruits, leading to a shortage of some products.
The Foreign Minister had a chance to visit the Jiangnan Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market in the city of Guangzhou, where he met with the market manager and a group of Thai fruit importers. He said that the growing popularity of Thai fruits had led to a marked rise in the volume of imports in recent years. The most sought-after Thai fruits include durian, mangosteen, longan, and a small Thai banana kluai khai
(“egg banana”) known in Mandarin as huang di jiao
or the “emperor banana.”
The Jiangnan Market is the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Guangzhou. It is, in fact, the biggest distribution center of fruits and vegetables in China and ASEAN. Some 5,000 tons of produce pass through the market each day, of which 1,000 tons are fruits from Thailand, about 100 containers, which account for about a quarter of the total volume of fruits imported by China, worth some 10 billion baht a year.
Foreign Minister Surapong said that Guangdong province and Thailand have long enjoyed close relations. Some 80 percent of the overseas Chinese in Thailand were from Guangdong province. On commerce, the trade volume in 2011 was valued at more than 19 billion US dollars. Thai exports to Guangdong include agricultural products; the top four of which were rubber, cassava, fruit, and rice. On the issue of adulteration of jasmine rice, he suggested that rice trade on a government-to-government basis could help resolve the problem.
A Working Group on Thai-Guangdong Cooperation will hold a meeting in Bangkok in 2013 to discuss issues of mutual interest, such as the development of transportation infrastructure to help speed up the transportation of goods, particularly agricultural products.
Foreign Minister Surapong revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would soon launch the so-called “One Ambassador-One Product” scheme in order to promote Thai agricultural produce overseas and to enhance the potential of the Thai fruit export industry.