The surge in cross-border trade of agricultural produce was highlighted last Friday at a forum jointly held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and the Lang Son People’s Committee.
The forum discussed ways to further increase the flow of Vietnamese fruit and vegetables into Chinese markets via official border trade.
The Agriculture Ministry’s Plants Protection Department (PPD) announced that in total, Vietnam exported over two million tonnes of fruits and vegetables worth US$1.6 billion to China last year. Corresponding figures for the first seven months of this year are 1.2 million tonnes and $1.3 billion.
Key exports are fresh fruits and vegetables, with strong growth seen in rubber-based products, tapioca, coffee and tea.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) Mountainous and Frontier Trade Department (MFTD) said the bilateral agricultural trade surplus is financial boost for Vietnamese farmers, merchants and people living within the border region.
They said the produce being exported to China enjoyed the advantage of having more favourable cultivation conditions, and as such were always welcomed by Chinese buyers.
The MFTD said they have been working tirelessly with their Chinese counterparts to implement enabling policies and regulations to shape the trade flow between the two countries.
These include stricter customs checks, better quality control, transportation and storage infrastructure before clearance, as well as the opening of auxiliary border gates.
As a result, exports of fresh fruits and vegetables to China has been increasing rapidly in quantity and quality, with around 478,514 tonnes of dragon fruit, 223,455 tonnes of watermelon, 240,345 tonnes of longan and 81,198 tonnes of lychee going through border gates in Lang Son Province alone last year.
Corresponding figures so far this year are 273,154 tonnes of dragon fruits, 167,035 tonnes of watermelon and 19,505 tonnes of lychee, worth of $203 million, $75 million and $9.3 million, respectively.
Huang Tan Mei, Vice Mayor of Chongzuo City in Guangxi Province, said at the forum that thanks to many similarities in tastes and demands between people on both sides of the Vietnamese- Chinese border, trade volume should increase steadily in the years to come.
The annual average agricultural export turnover from Vietnam to Chongzou is now 1.86 million tonnes through Lang Son border gates alone, Huang said.
She also believed that with the leadership of both countries maintaining tight co-operation through information exchanges and encouraging agricultural production, there was always room for growth as more and more Vietnamese products were gaining Chinese consumers’ trust.
Ly Vinh Quang, Vice Chairman of Lang Son Provincial People’s Committee, said that authorities are committed to supporting businesses and creating favourable conditions for export growth through more transparent rules and procedures.
According to the Tan Thanh Customs Branch under the Lang Son Customs Department, around 250 to 280 truckloads of fresh fruits with cold storage facilities go through the border gates everyday, averaging 2,600 tonnes to 3,200 tonnes.
Each day, across all border gates in Lang Son Province, at least 1,500 trucks carrying Vietnamese agricultural products head for China.
Customs officers have been instructed to give clearance and transit priority to agricultural products, and online customs procedures that can be completed in three to five minutes have helped. Coupled with a newly upgraded parking lots system, storage spaces and customs office in Lang Son Province, the transport of fruits and vegetables to China has become much easier.
At a recent, regular meeting of the ministry, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said over the past seven months, the sector has seen growth in both productivity and export turnover.
Cuong said in the first seven months of 2017, Vietnam had successfully exported $10.89 billion worth of agricultural products, a year on year increase of 18 percent. Export of fresh fruits and vegetables fetched $2.03 billion, a year on year increase of 48.9 percent.
According to a report from the MARD’s Department of Crop Production (DCP), the output of vegetables and fruits has increased and domestic prices have been stable this year. The prices of some fruits have even doubled from last year, like lychee at $1.69 per kilogramme or cashew at $2.2 per kilogramme.
Aquaculture has overcome harsh weather conditions to reach a production of 4 million tonnes in the first seven months, a year on year increase of 5 per cent, accounting for 57.4 per cent of the annual goal.
In the livestock sector, despite earlier pork price fluctuations, output has stabilised since July, with exports to China increasing slightly. Prices of eggs have almost doubled, mostly due to a rising demand for baking in preparation for the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival.
On average, as of July 2017, the number of pigs had dropped by 3.3 percent, cows increased 2.2 percent, and that of poultry increased by five percent from the same period in 2016, on par with the sector’s annual growth rate of 3 percent.
Agricultural exports have risen and the DCP estimates; market is also on the rise, with the DCP guaranteeing 2017’s annual growth up to 2.05 percent.
Nonetheless, Cuong asked all departments and agencies under the MARD work together on helping solve remaining problems in the sector.
For instance, they should co-operate with the Water Resources Department in fighting floods and landslides, or the Department of Livestock in stabilising domestic meat prices and export meat quality control.
The Minister also stressed that comprehensive steps should taken from the policy level onwards to guarantee stable exports outflows, ensuring quality of produce, product diversification and application of technological advances in both cultivation and post-harvest preservation.