Accounting for 23.2 percent of entire fruit imported by China, many Thai tropical fruit, such as longans, durians and mangosteenscanmaintain favorable market shares, over other ASEAN rivals, e.g., Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Over the past five years (2006-2010), China's fruit imports sourced globally have surged continuously, reaching an average growth of 27 percent per year. The relatively high demand there should also help support Thai fruit exports toward even higher growth.
KResearch views that the Chinese authorities' approval for the imports of Malaysian durian (effective in July 2011) represents a further liberalization in their fruit market. Thus, Thai fruit may face greater competition in China, particularly with Malaysian durians which have pleasant and creamy taste as well as tender odor. Although Thai durians are maintaining their nearly 100-percent market share in China, Thai exporters should not be complacent toward fruit exported by Malaysia, particularly since Malaysian durians have been horticulturally developed to enhance their longevity. Meanwhile, other ASEAN member countries importing fruit that can better respond to demand in China, so Thai market shares may erode.
Although China is the largest fruit export destination globally for Thailand, we import a large volume of Chinese fruit, thus resulting in relatively high deficit in fruit trade. With ASEAN-Chinese trade liberalization, Thailand has experienced a smaller trade surplus with China and is currently recording a deficit with them, reaching USD7.6 million for 4M11.
Thai fruit exporters should adjust themselves to enhance their future business opportunity in China through liberalization privileges, hopefully to minimize that fruit trade deficit. In addition, adjustments by farmers should include increases in their production yield per rai (2.5 rai = 1 acre), the use of new cultivation technologies and adding value to their products, while exporters should expand distribution channels and seek business allies in China to help maintain our market share as the Chinese turn to new sources to support rising demand there.