Durian growers in Thailand are eagerly awaiting the opening of the Laos-China Railway, which they believe will help them access the lucrative Chinese market.
China relies almost completely on imports for its durian, the majority of which originate in Thailand and Malaysia, even as durians have replaced cherries as the top fruit imported into China.
Growing demand for the fruit by Chinese consumers has seen some 575,000 tons of fresh durian worth a total of USD 2.3 billion imported into China last year.
While Laos is unlikely to develop its own nascent durian industry fast enough to compete with its neighbor any time soon, it can benefit from allowing countries like Thailand to make us of the Laos-China Railway.
According to Global Times, when the weather in China enters its winter months, most fresh Thai durians are transported by air which usually takes two days.
When weather conditions are favorable, fruit from Thailand is still trucked through Laos across arduous, mountainous terrain to the border of China at Boten, from where it is moved to larger cities in China.
With the Covid-19 pandemic placing more and more obstacles in front of truck drivers, such as Covid-19 tests and congestion at the borders, the Laos-China Railway is seen as the best solution.
Delivering the fruit by freight train will significantly reduce transport costs and time.