NANNING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- From Thai durian to Vietnamese coffee to Indonesian waffle, an increasing variety of agricultural products, leisure items and industrial supplies from ASEAN countries have gained easier access to the Chinese market since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came into force at the beginning of the year.
In the first half of this year, China's foreign trade achieved steady growth, with the total value of imports and exports reaching 19.8 trillion yuan (2.93 trillion U.S. dollars), up 9.4 percent year on year. During the period, China's trade with ASEAN reached 2.95 trillion yuan, up 10.6 percent, official data showed.
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southwest China is connected with ASEAN countries by land and sea, becoming an important window for exchanges and cooperation between China and RCEP members.
Thanks to the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and the improved cold chain, cold storage and other supporting infrastructure, exports of fruits, snacks and agricultural products from ASEAN countries to China have seen a significant boost in recent years.
The Thai Shopping Festival has been hosted for 10 years by the Thai Consulate-General in Nanning together with supermarkets and trading companies in Guangxi. Due to the shopping carnival's immense popularity, its 2022 edition was extended from nine days to 15 days.
Zhong Xiaoli, a local resident, has a special liking for authentic Thai cuisine and frequents Thai restaurants. She recently bought Thai sauces and ingredients online to make Thai food at home.
After hearing about the shopping festival, she directly headed to a supermarket after work to buy Thai cooking ingredients. "I used to purchase such ingredients from other sources, but now I have a wider variety of options on the shelves," she said.
"Consumer awareness of ASEAN products is increasing, as is people's enthusiasm for consumption," Li Wenqing, director of a Nanning supermarket, said, adding that sales of the most popular fresh durian can exceed 3 million yuan a year and sometimes hit nearly 100,000 yuan in a single day.
Mayiyanghuo, a local cross-border e-commerce platform in Guangxi, has imported 4.9 tonnes of cubilose, or edible bird's nests, worth more than 60 million yuan from January to June, according to the company.
"The RCEP has had a positive impact on our company's growth, as tariff reductions and expedited customs clearance have made it easier for us to import a wider variety of ASEAN products," said Peng Xueyan, operating manager at Mayiyanhuo.
Priya Gnanam is a Malaysian student in China. In the past few years of studying in the country, she has been exposed to the booming digital economy and cross-border e-commerce, and has even tried her hand at livestreaming.
"I have introduced white coffee, Musang King durian products and other Malaysian specialties during my livestreaming sessions. Chinese consumers are very interested in such items, and their purchasing power is very strong," Priya said.
Wanlada Ratanapanich, commercial consul with Thai Consulate-General in Nanning, said that regional trade and investment facilitation has been enhanced by the implementation of the RCEP, and that trade between China and Thailand has bright prospects. ■