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Thailand eyes more agricultural exports shipped to China

BANGKOK (XINHUA) – The latest transportation of Thai fruits through the China-Laos Railway, after the first shipment of Thai rice to China in February, is fuelling hope that the rail route would facilitate and boost exports of Thai agricultural products to their major market.

The batch of Thai fruits, 40 tonnes of durians and 20 tonnes of coconuts, was loaded on the train at the Vientiane South Station of the China-Laos Railway and reached the Nateuy Station in Luang Namtha Province, which borders southwest China’s Yunnan Province, last Friday.

The shipment came after Thailand used the rail route to transport 500 tonnes of rice to southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality in February.

China has remained Thailand’s largest trading partner for nine consecutive years, and has been a major export market for Thailand’s agricultural products. Bilateral trade volume surged 33 per cent year-on-year to USD131.18 billion in 2021, according to data from China’s General Administration of Customs.

The China-Laos Railway, which stretches over 1,000 kilometres and links Kunming with Vientiane, has boosted regional connectivity and economic cooperation. “This rail route will become the new channel to transport goods from Thailand to China, keeping the freshness of agricultural products such as fruit and vegetable,” director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations under Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce Auramon Supthaweethum told Xinhua.

Anticipated to reduce transportation time for a reasonable cost, the China-Laos Railway could be a competitive option for Thai exporters, Auramon said, adding that it would advantage not only agricultural products but also all other exporting products.

Given the majority of China-ASEAN trade has relied mainly on maritime routes rather than overland transportation, it is foreseeable that with the China-Laos Railway, there could be a significant shift from maritime trade to road and rail in the coming years, she said.

Auramon noted that the railway also helps open the possibilities of extending export routes to other countries such as in Europe with an approximately 15-18 days delivery, which is faster and lower cost compared to marine transportation.