Fruit exports on sure footing as demand persists
Thailand's fruit shipments are expected to stay intact this year in terms of export value, as international demand for Thai fruit, including from China, remains strong despite the coronavirus contagion.
Paiboon Wongchotesathit, president of Thai Fresh Fruit Traders & Exporters Association, said the outbreak is unlikely to affect demand for Thai fruit, particularly from China, which is a major importer.
He forecasts export values for Thai fruit to grow by at least 10% this year from 113 billion baht last year.
"We expect China's demand for Thai fruit is unlikely to fall from last year's figures," he said. "Higher consumption is anticipated, as Chinese people are not travelling abroad with the outbreak."
China accounted for 57.1% of Thai fresh, frozen and dried fruit exports last year, generating 64.5 billion baht worth of export income.
Mr Paiboon said China's logistics services are expected to become fully operational next month, although the services have yet to resume in certain cities.
"We've found China's logistics services are at about 50%," he said. "We expect the whole logistics and delivery system will resume full operations in April."
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said to boost fruit exports this year the Thai and Chinese governments will team up to tackle redundancy in fruit quality inspection; speed up cross-border shipments to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia and Vietnam; and hold fruit fairs in key export markets.
Financial aid measures are available from the government to help exporters' liquidity, including subsidising a 3% interest rate for six months. A similar 3% subsidy is available for 10 months to farming cooperatives that collect fruit.
The government has threatened to exercise the Trade Competition Act to take legal action against traders who unfairly lower purchase prices. Mr Jurin said Thailand is expected to produce 3 million tonnes of fruit in the 2020 season, up 10% from 2.8 million tonnes in the previous year.