Mr Ith Pisarnvanich, director of international trade study centre of Thai Chamber of Commerce University, pointed out that, in the past 2-3 years, the number of Chinese “long” or fruit traders in Thailand has quickly multiplied either in the form of joint venture with Thai partners or using Thais as their nominees.
He said that these Chinese traders do not only buy Thai fruits from major middlemen but also deal directly with the orchard owners by buying fruits of the whole plantations.
If this trend goes on unchecked, Mr Ith warned that Chinese fruit traders may monopolise fruit trading in Thailand and, as such, will be able to dictate fruit prices.
He pointed out that Thai fruit growers are happy to deal directly with Chinese buyers instead of with Thai middlemen because they may get cash in advance and don’t have to be worried with the problem of unsold fruits.
But once the Chinese traders have full control of the market, then they will have more bargaining power and may suppress the prices on the growers, said Mr Ith, adding that fruit processing factories may be hard hit too because most of the fruits have been bought up the Chinese traders.
One reason that Thai fruit exporters find it hard to penetrate the Chinese market because the Chinese law requires that fruits can be imported into China through Chinese companies.
According to statistics, there are now 1,090 Chinese fruit traders in Thailand. Of these, 473 deal in buying of lamyai, 556 in durian and 65 inmangosteen.