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Vietnam truck jam as China tightens import rules for COVID

LANG SON, VIETNAM (AFP) – Thousands of trucks carrying fruit were stuck yesterday at Vietnam’s main freight border crossing with China after Beijing tightened rules on imported goods because of the pandemic.

Lorries loaded with thousands of tonnes of dragonfruit, jackfruit, mango and other produce are languishing at the crossing in Vietnam’s northern Lang Son province.

Some of the drivers say they have been waiting for days or even months to cross.

“I have been here for 40 days. My fruits are going to be rotten. I am so tired of this,” said a driver who identified himself as Hai, while cooking a meal beside his truck full of jackfruit.
Hai was carrying the produce from southern Tien Giang province. He did not know when he could come back home.

On another truck, Nguyen Van Nen from northern Bac Ninh province said it was the biggest hit he experienced in years.

Vietnamese container trucks at a makeshift parking lot wait to cross the Vietnam-China border in Lang Son province yesterday, as thousands of trucks carrying fruit remained stuck at the border while China tightened its border policies. PHOTO: AFP

“If I am lucky, I think I can get through after 10 days,” Nen told AFP, explaining his container of 32 tonnes of watermelon will have to wait for more than 800 trucks.

The border crossing is not fully closed, but only a trickle of trucks are making it through – on Thursday only around 100 passed through the Huu Nghi gate.

Earlier in the week, Lang Son provincial authorities issued a statement advising provinces and businesses not to send goods to the border until the end of the month.

The statement said the jam was due to “Chinese authorities’ tougher pandemic control measures against people and vehicles entering the country”.

China has been testing cold-chain imported foods for traces of COVID-19 since 2020, though the World Health Organization saidthere is only a very low chance of the virus being passed on this way.

Several local governments in China have said they have detected COVID traces on dragonfruit imported from Vietnam.

According to official figures, Vietnam earned USD3.5 billion dollars from the exports of fruits and vegetables last year, a slight increase on the previous years.

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