Thai Trade Negotiations Department (DTN) representatives recently conducted a visit to the Thanaleng Dry Port in Lao PDR, aiming to encourage Thai entrepreneurs to harness the advantages of free trade agreements (FTAs) for rail exports and explore trade opportunities among Thailand, Laos, and China.
DTN Director-General Auramon Sapthaweetham explained that the Thanaleng Dry Port, situated at the Vientiane Logistics Park, is a Lao initiative to enhance connectivity with neighboring countries, transforming it from a landlocked nation to a border-connected one.
The dry port significantly improves shipping logistics between Thailand, Laos, and China by reducing transportation time.
Auramon highlighted the substantial increase in Thai fruit exports following the opening of the China-Laos railway in 2021. The value of Thai fruit exports to China surged from 90.41 million baht in 2021 to 1.96 billion baht in 2022. In the first five months of 2023, the value further rose to 2.85 billion baht, with fresh durian comprising 72% of the total fruit exports.
This trend signifies the growing demand for Thai fruits among Chinese consumers. Auramon urged Thai farmers and fruit exporters to seize this opportunity and diversify their exports to China, leveraging the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Railway transportation is expected to play a vital role in facilitating this process.
During the visit, Auramon also met with executives from PTT and Luang Phrabang’s Café Amazon to explore potential opportunities for café investment. Laos is renowned for its coffee plantations, and there is an increasing demand for branded, health-oriented beverages among local consumers. Additionally, Laos’ thriving tourism industry offers significant potential for café business expansion.
Lastly, the department visited Laos’ first buffalo dairy farm in Luang Prabang. Buffalo milk is highly nutritious and serves as an excellent alternative for individuals with cow’s milk allergies. Auramon suggested that Thai farmers and entrepreneurs could learn from the farm and potentially tap into the market for buffalo milk in Thailand due to its nutritional value and relative scarcity, which could command favorable prices.