LAMPANG (NNT) – Despite economic stagnation and border closures, due to COVID-19, Thailand remains ASEAN’s largest exporter of fresh refrigerated vegetables, while being 14th in the world.

Trade Negotiations Department Director-General Oramon Sapthaweetham said that, from January to June this year, Thailand exported vegetables worth 143 million US Dollars, a 9.7% decrease compared to the same period last year.

Countries with which Thailand has Free Trade Agreements (FTA) remain the largest markets, worth 94 million USD, or 66% of the country’s total vegetable exports.

Among the FTA members, Japan is the kingdom’s biggest buyer, making up 36%, while all ASEAN countries combined make up 22% of the total export volume.

Some of the popular products include fresh garlic which, during the first half of the year saw export volume grow 124%, compared to the same period last year, to 13.8 million USD, while chilli also grew by 33% to 8.3 million USD, along with frozen nuts, which remain popular as exports increased 0.5% to 37.6 million dollars.

Meanwhile, demand for frozen sweet corn contracted by 17.7% to 9.6 million USD.

Currently, the kingdom has FTA agreements with 17 countries, 13 of which no longer levy import duties on Thai vegetables. The 13 countries include China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Peru and 6 countries in ASEAN namely, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Brunei. Meanwhile, the five countries who are FTA partners, but still impose import duties, are South Korea, India, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines.

Food production during the first half of the year shrunk by 8.6 percent year-on-year, with food exports down two percent to 500 billion baht due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation.

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