Thailand seeks China’s green light for use of high-speed train to deliver durian

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2022

The Thai government has asked China for permission to ship Thai durians on the high-speed train to Kunming without being stopped for Covid checks midway, a government spokeswoman said.

Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the Thai side had proposed to China during a recent meeting that Thai fruits and durians should be allowed to be shipped on the high-speed train and cargo containers should be closed at the Laos railway station.

The Thai side asked China to exempt Thai fruit from being checked again at the Mohan border gate and instead allow them to be transported non-stop to the destination station in Kunming.

The government spokeswoman said Thailand expects the request to be approved, and implementation should begin this month.

She said that during the negotiations, the Thai side also asked China to exempt Thai durians shipped by Covid-free-certified exporters from strict Covid checking at the four border gates of Mohan, Youyiguan, Pingxiang, and Dongxiang.

Currently, Chinese authorities are strictly checking all fruit containers entering the country at the four border checkpoints in line with its zero-Covid policy. The checking delays the shipments and sometimes results in some fruits going rotten.

Rachada said the Thai government asked Beijing to give privileges to durian exporters with GMP-Plus and Covid-free certificates. She said so far only 400 durian exporters have received training and earned the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices)-Plus and Covid-free certificates.

The spokeswoman said exporst of fruit to China have been affected by China’s zero-Covid policy and several ministries have been trying to hold talks with China so that fruit shipped from Thailand do not get damaged in the long checking process of Chinese authorities.

“The government has never ceased its efforts to solve issues related to the shipping of fruit to China since the Covid-19 pandemic began,” Rachada said.

“The Agriculture, Commerce and Foreign ministries are joining hands to coordinate with China to solve the issue of bottlenecks at Chinese checkpoints.”

She added that the Thai side had also proposed to China to hold a joint meeting between Thailand, China, Laos and Vietnam to settle on a common protocol for speeding up fruit exports and imports.

The Thai side would propose a green lane at each border checkpoint to speed up clearance of fruit to avoid damage, she added.

She said the exports of fruit were valued at Bt91 billion in 2020 and the value increased to Bt160 billion in 2021 because the government has been trying to solve all issues related to Covid restrictions.

The spokeswoman added that the Agriculture and Commerce ministries are now eyeing fruit markets in the Middle East, such as in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, Agriculture Minister Chalermchai Sri-on held a meeting with the UAE trade minister to allow Thailand to export more agricultural products and foods to the Middle East country, the spokeswoman added.