In a promising development for Vietnamese agriculture, the Department of Agriculture is actively working towards expanding the export of agricultural products, particularly fruits and vegetables, to the Chinese market. Several protocols have been signed between Vietnam and China, paving the way for increased official exports of various produce.
At the close of 2023, Vietnam and China inked a protocol on plant quarantine requirements specifically for fresh watermelons from Vietnam. This agreement is expected to significantly enhance opportunities for Vietnamese businesses and farmers involved in watermelon cultivation. The streamlined inspection process at border gates will expedite customs clearance, reducing inspection frequency to only 2-3% of export batches. This move aims to prevent congestion during peak seasons, such as the Tet holiday, and stabilize export prices for watermelons.
In the first ten months of 2023, Vietnam's watermelon exports to China already saw a substantial increase, reaching a turnover of $44 million—an impressive 162% surge compared to the same period the previous year. Forecasts suggest that this positive momentum could lead to watermelon exports exceeding $50 million in 2024.
A year ago, a similar protocol was established for the export of fresh bananas from Vietnam to China, resulting in a notable uptick in Vietnamese banana exports to its neighboring market. Statistics from China Customs Authority revealed that Vietnamese bananas imported into China during the first ten months of 2023 amounted to 412,000 tonnes, a 2.3% increase compared to the same period in 2022.
Despite challenges, Vietnam's total fruit and vegetable exports witnessed a remarkable growth of 70.3% in the first eleven months of 2023, reaching $5.19 billion. China remains the largest market for Vietnam's fruit and vegetable exports, contributing $3.4 billion—an impressive 149% increase over the previous year.
Durian emerged as the top-performing product in 2023, surpassing dragon fruit with an export value of $2.2 billion, marking a fivefold increase from 2022. Leading durian exporters, such as Chánh Thu Fruit Import-Export Ltd, Co and Vina T&T Group Import-Export Company, reported successful ventures in the Chinese market.
With Vietnam possessing 14 agricultural products permitted for export to China, including durian, mango, watermelon, and more, there is a concerted effort to further expand market access. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is actively collaborating with the General Administration of Customs of China to finalize documents for additional products.
However, the key challenge lies in ensuring compliance with various technical requirements, including growing areas, packaging facilities, food hygiene and safety, and plant quarantine. To sustain export markets, the Ministry is prioritizing monitoring and adherence to protocols, promoting systematic production models for Vietnamese businesses to successfully navigate the complexities of international trade regulations.