Thai Durian Exports to Vietnam Soar 10,000% as New Gateway to China 

According to the Ministry of Commerce’s report for the first four months (Jan-Apr) of 2023, Thailand’s durian exports and frozen durian had a total value of 63,627 million baht, up 166 percent from the same period last year.

The top export market was China with a value of 62,068 million baht, an increase of 170 percent from the previous year, foloowing by Hong Kong with a value of 941 million baht, up 77 percent year-on-year, and Taiwan with a value of 198 million baht, up 36 percent year-on-year.

Notably, Vietnam ranked tenth as an export market with a value of only 0.15 million baht in 2022 and 16.25 million in 2023, but recorded a remarkable 10,769 percent increase.

Keerati Rushchano, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, told Prachachat that durian exports, both fresh and frozen, have increased by over 100 percent in the first four months of this year. However, the trend for the second half of the year has yet to be evaluated, especially durian production in the southern region as production in the eastern region is almost complete.

In addition to market management, the ministry has also been monitoring transport across the Vietnamese and Lao borders for export to China. However, there are currently no plans to expand exports to other countries. The Ministry of Commerce has coordinated with the two border inspection posts of the two countries to ensure a smooth export process.

Sanchai Puranachaikiri, president of the Thai Fruit Traders and Exporters Association, said durian exports are expected to increase by 50 per cent this year. Durian production in the eastern region has been a major contributor to the increased exports in the first four months, which recorded a remarkable 166 percent increase compared to the same period last year, breaking previous records. The price of the popular Monthong durian has also reached a new high of 270 baht per kilogram.

It is worth noting that while China remains the top export market, the market in Vietnam, which is one of Thailand’s top 10 markets, has experienced a staggering 10,000 percent growth rate. Despite the relatively low volume, traders have shifted their focus to export through Vietnam as a gateway to China, passing through checkpoints such as You Yiguan, Dongxing and Ping Qian.

The cross-border route through Vietnam is already widely used and declaration procedures vary. Some traders declare their goods directly to China, while others declare them to Vietnam, as the products sometimes do not need a middleman when they are ticketed to Vietnam, as they are considered cross-border products and no taxes are charged, only border fees.

Sanchai added that the Durian Association Group held a joint meeting with the elected members of the Move Forward Party, which won in the eastern region, at the Blue Rabbit Hotel in Chanthaburi on 23 June to discuss the implementation of the new durian care measures by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards.

Workers unload fruits transported from Thailand on the China-Laos Railway in Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province, April 19, 2023. (Xinhua/Qin Wenlu)

They were worried that these standards will have long-term implications for the control of durian exports. The work involved is complex and leads to overlap in licensing. Currently, the inspection power has been transferred to the private sector, with the government becoming a tool for this group.

“In the beginning, the discussion revolved around finding solutions to the problem of immature durians. However, the discussion ended up controlling the middleman, not the farm. Penalties were imposed on those who do not sell immature durians. The middleman only buys the immature durians from the farmer who harvests and sells the immature durians. Instead of focusing on controlling the orchards and the people involved in harvesting, attention shifted to controlling the warehouse controllers,” Sanchai explained.