BANGKOK, April 4 (Xinhua) -- The latest transportation of Thai fruits through the China-Laos Railway, after the first shipment of Thai rice to China in February, is fueling hope that the rail route would facilitate and boost exports of Thai agricultural products to their major market.
The batch of Thai fruits, 40 tons of durians and 20 tons 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 on Friday, which borders southwest China's Yunnan Province. The fruits were then transited to trucks at the Nateuy Station and entered China by road.
The shipment came after Thailand used the rail route to transport 500 tons of rice to southwest China's Chongqing Municipality in February.
Yan Jianchao, the Thai chief representative of the Shanghai Minsheng Shipping Co., the logistics company responsible for the shipment of the Thai rice, said extra efforts were spent on communication and coordination because it was the first time, but it went well thanks to the support of relevant departments from China, Thailand and Laos.
The China-Laos Railway has opened a new gate for expanding trade cooperation between China's southwestern regions and Southeast Asian countries, Yan said.
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 percent year on year to 131.18 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs.
Thailand expects to see the transportation of more export products to China through the China-Laos Railway, with fruits, vegetables and other products being the prioritized items, Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
The China-Laos Railway, which stretches over 1,000 km and links Kunming, capital of China's Yunnan Province, with Vientiane, has boosted regional connectivity and economic cooperation since it started operation four months ago.
"This rail route will become the new channel to transport goods from Thailand to China, especially agricultural products, which saves more time on transportation that can retain the freshness of agricultural products such as fruit and vegetable," Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations under Thailand's Ministry of Commerce, told Xinhua in an interview.
As it is anticipated to reduce transportation time with reasonable cost, the China-Laos Railway would be considered as a new option for Thai exporters, Auramon said, adding that it would advantage not only agricultural products but also all other exporting products such as synthetic rubber, cassava and cassava starch.
Thailand is ready to ship more goods through this route after the construction of sanitary and phytosanitary facility at the Mohan railway checkpoint, which is scheduled to be ready by mid-year, Auramon said.
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.