December 13, 2023
BEIJING – Dongxing, a city on the Chinese border with Vietnam, is a good example of the fast-expanding agricultural trade between the two neighboring nations in recent years.
Statistics published by the city, with a population of 200,000, in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region showed that its trading volume with Vietnam reached 19.2 billion yuan ($2.68 billion) in the first 10 months of 2023, up 161 percent year-on-year.
Most transactions involved farm produce, ranging from tropical fruits to aquatic products.
Partly due to such a jump in cross-border business, Dongxing inaugurated a special venue for inspecting agricultural products only at a local border crossing in March.
Last month, construction of another three such venues was completed. The facilities, which are yet to be opened, are intended to fast-track customs checks for perishable goods including plants, frozen seafood and aquatic products.
While addressing a bilateral trade event, Peng Shaoguan, the city’s Party secretary, said Dongxing is willing to work with Vietnam to promote the high-quality development of such trade.
Agricultural trade between the two countries started to boom after the signing of the China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Area, which took effect in 2010, allowing tariff-free trade between China and Southeast Asian countries.
After China’s signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership pact, a free-trade agreement with 14 Asia-Pacific nations, including Vietnam, that took effect last year, the scope of the tariff remission expanded.
Vietnam pledged to remove tariffs immediately or in stages for 91.3 percent of agricultural imports from China, including frozen seafood, eggs and honey.
China has pledged to do the same for 92.6 percent of agricultural imports from Vietnam.
Guangxi has been at the forefront of such trade. Customs data published by Nanning, the regional capital, showed that Vietnam-Guangxi trade reached about 223 billion yuan in the first 11 months of this year, up 31 percent year-on-year.
Cheng Yingchao, a customs official in Nanning, told China News Service that this was the largest increase since 2016.
Over the same period, agricultural imports from Vietnam surged 57 percent year-on-year to 7.49 billion yuan.
Vietnamese durians were a new favorite in Guangxi and across China. The prickly tropical fruit was approved for import in July 2022. From January to November, Guangxi bought 4.16 billion yuan worth of durians from Vietnam, more than eight times the figure during the same period last year.
The RCEP agreement, which has created the world’s largest trading bloc, promotes the import of a range of Vietnamese fruits such as passion fruit and bananas, as well as fruits from other countries in the region.
China and Vietnam have in recent years emerged as each other’s most crucial agricultural trade partner, official figures showed, and the two countries are seeking closer ties under the RCEP.
The trade volume of farm produce between the two neighbors jumped from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $9.4 billion in 2020, according to China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
In 2020, China bought almost $4 billion worth of agricultural products from Vietnam — a major producer of rice, corn, coffee and rubber — up from $770 million a decade ago. Chinese agricultural exports to its southern neighbor also soared over the period, from $1.35 billion to $5.49 billion.
China was Vietnam’s second-largest destination for agricultural exports after the United States by 2020, as well as the primary source of such imports at the time.
Vietnam’s agricultural trade with China in 2019 accounted for 18 percent of its total, which was twice that of 2010, the ministry said.
In the first eight months of this year, China overtook the US to become Vietnam’s largest market for farm produce, official figures showed.