Le Thanh Hoa, Deputy Director of the Agricultural Products Processing and Market Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MARD) on December 11 quoted a report from Lang Son Industry and Trade Department that said trucks had been stuck at the border gate since December 10. The yards for trucks are full.
Hoa said the customs clearance capacity at the three border gates of Huu Nghi, Tan Thanh and Chi Ma has dropped by 50 percent from 450 trucks per day to 220. The total clearance capacity of the three border gates is 500 trucks per day.
At Tan Thanh, it takes one truck of dragon fruit and jackfruit 10-14 days to get customs clearance. At Mong Cai, about 40-50 trucks get clearance a day.
At Mong Cai, according to the border gate management board, as of December 11 morning, 800 trucks carrying frozen catfish and shrimp and 300 containers of fruits had not been cleared. Only fresh seafood went through smoothly.
China said it will stop receiving frozen exports through border gates in Lang Son for 14 days before and after 2022 the Lunar New Year holiday.
Dong Dang Border Gate Economic Zone (EZ) Management Board on November 25 had a talk with the taskforce of Pingxiang, Guang Xi.
All Guang Xi vehicle drivers, customs workers, agents and agencies are required to have a Covid test every two days and stay in border gate areas, while workers inspecting frozen imports from Vietnam must have 21-day quarantine before returning inland. China asked Vietnam to encourage Vietnamese businesses not to export frozen products to China before and after the Tet holiday, so that Chinese officers can reunite with their families to celebrate Lunar New Year.
According to Lang Son authorities, the Chinese side has many times mentioned the tightening of Covid-19 inspections, including the restriction of imports of all products carried in cold-storage containers.
The suspension of frozen seafood for 14 days will have a great impact on goods exchange through the border gates in Lang Son.
Earlier, Dang Phuc Nguyen, Secretary General of Vietnam Vegetables and Fruit Association, told VietNamNet that the goods import/export through Chinese southern ports would be interrupted for six weeks during Lunar New Year holiday because of the Chinese decisions.
This was attributed to pandemic developments, as China is pursuing a zero-Covid policy. It is not only tightening control over imports, but also immigrants.
Sailors, when returning from ports, will have to have a 3-week quarantine, and another 3-week quarantine when returning to work after celebrating Lunar New Year with their families. Therefore, shipping agents have decided to have six weeks off.
As such, the import or transshipment of goods via Chinese southern ports will be interrupted. Vietnam’s exports to China by sea during the Tet holiday may be refused, or they will not be able to enter the ports for six weeks, according to Nguyen.
China is now the second largest consumer of Vietnam’s farm exports. The market imported $8.4 billion worth of agriculture, forestry and seafood products in the first 11 months of the year, 23.3 percent of which were vegetables and fruits.
In general, the year end is the high export season for Vietnamese farmers and exporters. However, the Chinese decision to strengthen Covid-19 inspections and the interruption of service at border gates and seaports will cause difficulties for Vietnam exports.
Le Thanh Tung, Deputy Director of the Department of Crop Protection, said Vietnam’s fruit output in December 2021 alone was 700,000 tons, and the figure is expected to rise to 1.7 million tons by Tet.
He warned that sales of fruit in southern provinces may face difficulties in the first quarter of 2022 because of Covid-19. Meanwhile, the requirements on traceability set by export markets have become increasingly strict.
Nguyen warned that if businesses cannot export products by sea, they will shift to export by land, which will cause congestion at border gates. He suggested boosting domestic consumption, especially sales via e-commerce platforms.
After tightening technical barriers, China now may suspend imports for at least six weeks during the Tet holiday. About 1 million tons of Vietnamese fruit may suffer from the decision.
Vietnam’s seafood exports to China are likely to decrease sharply as Chinese customs are tightening control over imports.