China Focus: BRI cooperation creates new opportunities for Thailand's durian farmers

CHONGQING, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Panumas Plabyindee is busy arranging fruit pickers to collect durians from his farm in Thailand's Chanthaburi Province, most of which will be sent to China's western regions via cargo train after processing.

The entire journey would not exceed 10 days, and Chinese consumers will be able to purchase these exotic fruits at local supermarkets.

China is Thailand's largest export market for fresh durian, with the export volume increasing at a rapid rate every year. According to Thailand's commerce ministry, the country's total export value of fresh durian reached about 3.49 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, and 90 percent of the fruits were sold to the Chinese market.

Explaining the importance of the Chinese market for his farm, Plabyindee said he benefited significantly by expanding the number of plantations from three to seven, and the annual output also increased from 1,500 tonnes to 3,750 tonnes.

The rapid growth of Thailand's durian exports to China is attributable to a certain extent to the opening of a new logistics channel -- the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.

Launched in 2017, it is a trade and logistics passage jointly built by provincial-level regions in western China and ASEAN members. The trade corridor is also one of the key projects under the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China.

With southwest China's Chongqing Municipality serving as its operations center and other western provinces as key nodes, goods shipped via the trade corridor can reach overseas more quickly via various transportation modes such as railways, highways and water routes.

The trade corridor allowed Plabyindee's durian products to enter the western regions of China for the first time. Now, he can even reap higher profits as the total transportation time is shortened by about six days, saving 2,000 yuan (about 280.7 U.S. dollars) per container.

Amid the challenges brought about by the pandemic and economic headwinds, the logistics passage has created new opportunities for an increasing number of countries and regions along the corridor, facilitating cross-border trade and driving economic growth.

"A total of 78 new logistics routes have been opened since the start of 2022, creating a new high in the number of new routes during the past five years," said Liu Wei, director of the Coordination Center for Logistics and Operation of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.

The transportation network now covers 338 ports in 113 countries and regions. The expansion of the logistic passage helped establish connections among more and more trade partners along the corridor and linked Chinese cities and provinces such as Chongqing, Gansu and Hunan with countries like Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.

In addition to Thai durian, indigenous products from Southeast Asia such as Thai dragon fruit, Indonesian kopi luwak coffee and Vietnamese basa fish can now enter the Chinese market in a much shorter time through the new land-sea corridor.

Deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation has become increasingly important at a time when the world is reeling from the pandemic.

On Saturday, China and Thailand issued a joint statement on working towards a China-Thailand community with a shared future for enhanced stability, prosperity and sustainability. The two countries will collectively advance work in all respects by promoting the connectivity of economic, trade, investment and logistics networks.

"I hope the cooperation between China and Thailand will continue to deepen so that more Chinese people can taste the delicious Thai durian and my income will also increase," Plabyindee said.

Editor: Yang Yifan
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