Vietnamese firms strive to revitalise agricultural exports to China

China remains the largest buyer of Vietnam’s agricultural products, so Vietnamese businesses are making preparations to boost exports to this market when it recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Workers process pineapple at a factory of the Dong Giao Foodstuff Export JSC in Tam Diep city, Ninh Binh province (Photo: VNA)

Due to the impact of COVID-19, agricultural exports to China in the first two months of 2020 dropped 22.2% to US$658 million from the same period last year, but the market retained its position as the top destination for Vietnamese farm produce.

Over the last few days, customs clearance at border gates has resumed.

The Kim Thanh International Border Gate No. 2 in the northern province of Lao Cai has recorded about 100 trucks shipping goods, mainly agricultural products like dragon fruit and watermelon, to China each day.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, Secretary General of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetables Association, told the Dau tu (Vietnam Investment Review) newspaper that trading activities between Vietnam and China are gradually regaining pre-pandemic levels. The Chinese Government has also taken measures to recover trade with other countries.

He recommended businesses promote quality and food safety and keep prices competitive to capitalise on chances to foster exports after the epidemic.

Chanh Thu Fruit Export – Import Company, based in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, recently exported batches of dragon fruit to China.

Deputy Director of the company Ngo Tuong Vy has recognised positive signs in the neighbouring market, but is still cautious since the COVID-19 pandemic remains complex and consumption demand in China has yet to stabilise.

The price of farm produce and accompanied services like transportation have increased, requiring firms to respond to market fluctuations, she said.

Vy noted her business has prepared for 2020, suggesting other companies and farmers should also take into account the worst-case scenarios. If the market is unable to recover in the second and third quarters, this year should be the time for them to restructure cultivation areas and production processes.

Bagico JSC, a fruit exporter based in the northern province of Bac Giang, is also making more plans to cope with any possible changes in the market.

Bagico Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuc said that though exports of agricultural products to China by road are gradually recovering, companies should also consider shipments by sea. As exports by sea take more time, they need to make thorough preparations in terms of processing and preservation.

In 2019, the Tam Vu Dragon Fruit Cooperative in the Mekong Delta province of Long An exported seven containers of red dragon fruit to China by sea.

Director Truong Quang An said apart from China, the cooperative is considering shipping the fruit by sea to other markets like Malaysia, Thailand and the Middle East.

VNA