Coped with the fact that agricultural products, especially fruits, are severely congested at the northern border gates, connecting the production, processing of agricultural products, and domestic market promotion is one of the solutions to solve difficulties for farmers and businesses before and after Nham Dan Lunar New Year.

Congested at border gates, agricultural products are facing difficulty during the Lunar New Year

(The trucks have been waiting at border gates Lang Son)

Sharing at the Agricultural Product 970 Connection Forum about connecting the production, processing of agricultural products, and domestic market promotion, Mr. Nguyen Van Duong, Deputy Director of Mong Cai Border Gate Branch said: From 12/21/2021, customs clearance procedures through Dong Hung border gate have been suspended, leading to the accumulation of agricultural products at Bac Luan II Bridge and Km3+4 Opening in Hai Yen Ward.

Specifically, 146 trucks of agricultural products of 20 enterprises are stuck at the border gate that is finding a way back to the domestic market. Particularly, there are 38 trucks of cassava starch in stock, which can be put in storage because of dry goods, and 139 trucks of seafood are also in stock. Mong Cai border gate has sent a notification to enterprises and made a plan to reduce storage costs for goods owners.

According to Ms. Dinh Thi Thu, Deputy Director of Lang Son Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the volume of exports at the province’s border gates currently is less than 100 trucks/day/gateway and most of them are dry goods. The total number of vehicles congested in Lang Son is now about 2,900 which is gradually decreasing. The main reason is that many vehicles have turned their way back to the domestic market for consumption, especially after Bang Tuong announced to stop importing dragon fruits from 00:00 AM December 29 to 00:00 AM January 26, 2022. In the upcoming time, the export of agricultural products is expected to face more difficulties, especially when the Western New Year holidays and Nham Dan Lunar New Year are just around the corner.

“China will suspend the import of goods in refrigerated containers for 28 days of the Lunar New Year, of which 14 days before Tet and 14 days after Tet,” Ms. Dinh Thi Thu added.

Faced with that situation, Ms. Thu suggested that the superior authority needs to hold more high-level talks to clear congested 2,900 vehicles before the Lunar New Year. In addition, Ms. Dinh Thi Thu also proposed negotiating with China to increase working time at the border gates from 4 hours or 8 hours to 12 hours a day to improve customs clearance capacity.

Mr. Hoang Chi Hien, Director of Lao Cai Department of Industry and Trade, said that there are no backlogs of trucks at the provincial border gate. However, in China, there are still 1,700 vehicles left. Enterprises said that they are vegetables, fruits, and consumer goods. On December 27-28, China temporarily suspends the border gate to disinfect for fighting the pandemic, then continues the import and export activities normally.

(Some traders have to return the trucks and sell off their stuff before rejected)

According to Mr. Hoang Chi Hien, before the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an average of 600-800 vehicles cleared daily through the provincial border gates, 80% of which were vehicles from China. Currently, only Lao Cai international border gate operates, mainly for official export. However, Chinese enterprises take advantage of the border resident policy to privilege 8,000 yuan, reducing costs. Lao Cai Department of Industry and Trade said that maintaining this policy would be very difficult.

According to statistics of Lao Cai Department of Industry and Trade, dragon fruit products account for the highest proportion and largest value in exports of this province. Specific figure in 2019 was 800 million USD, in 2020 it reached 600 million USD and 450 million USD this year due to being stopped from July 18. Since August 5, after testing, Ha Khau Trade Department stopped importing dragon fruits from Lao Cai.

Expand export market and focus on the domestic market

With China’s “Zero Covid” policy, customs clearance is being affected, causing thousands of container trucks to be stuck at the northern border area. For now, congested agricultural products are dragon fruits and jackfruits in Lang Son and seafood in Quang Ninh.

Export of dragon fruit in particular, fruits and agricultural products, in general, are facing many challenges. Therefore, along with the proposal to expand the export market and reduce the dependence on the traditional market, the role of the domestic market is once again emphasized. In which, the participation of the distribution system in connecting consumption and bringing products to the supermarket is very important.

Affirming to support the consumption of agricultural products in supermarkets, Mr. Paul Le, representative of Central Retail said, at first, it is necessary to classify products that are stuck at the border gate as well as garden houses, and Central Retail will help consume standard agricultural products, in which focus on dragon fruit and watermelon for consumption demand during Tet season.

As a large-scale retailer, Mr. Nguyen Thai Dung, General Director of BRG Retail Company Limited (BRG Retail) said that his company will deploy non-profit sales for Vietnamese agricultural products that have difficulties in exporting such as fruits and seafood on BRG Mart supermarket system. Besides, a cold storage system will be prepared to store seafood and fruits for sale from now to the end of the year. In addition, with the available technology infrastructure, BRG Retail also promotes the sale of agricultural products on its online shopping application system.

“The domestic market is entering the year-end consumption phase, and the demand is also increasing, so we want to cooperate with farmers and enterprises to consume. With the quality and appearance of products that meet export standards, and the non-profit selling price of BRG Retail, consumers will certainly accept them”, Mr. Nguyen Thai Dung added.

However, distribution businesses also suggested that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and related units should have propaganda policies so that farmers and businesses pay more attention to the domestic market, not just looking to it when exporting has difficulties like now.

“Perhaps due to business habits, most agricultural products in the south are often exported, not interested in the domestic market. Therefore, we need to have an appropriate orientation to balance the export and domestic markets to avoid risks in export. When we combine the export and domestic markets, we will develop stably and sustainably,” emphasized Mr. Nguyen Thai Dung.

To deal with the congestion of agricultural products, Mr. Le Thanh Hoa, Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Products Processing and Development, said that the Agricultural Sector has arranged many inspection teams to inspect and supervise the circulation, import, and export of agricultural products both at border gates and localities. Although many ministries, departments, and branches have taken drastic action, many localities have not yet had time to regulate goods. This situation leads to the fact that many trucks carrying agricultural products to the border have to turn back to big cities like Hanoi.

“We need to focus on the consumption of products that are in season. Enterprises that are capable of deep processing, or have preservation technology, need to participate in this process to avoid a situation where the prices of agricultural products fall deeply,” said Mr. Hoa.