Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand is anticipating an increase in Mekong River trade now that China’s Guan Lei Port in Yunnan province is open again.
Since the beginning of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the port in Xishuangbanna prefecture has been inaccessible.
Authorities in Xishuangbanna, who had requested the port’s reopening, asked for an inspection on August 16; in response, experts from Yunnan’s Department of Commerce, which borders Myanmar and Laos, inspected the port.
The Yunnan provincial government gave the port the green light to begin cargo operations last week, with the caveat that it adheres to strict safety standards and enhances its customs procedures.
Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce vice president Pakaimas Vierra said the port closure had hampered trade between Thailand and China.
Due to the high price and difficult terrain, many companies have used land transport through Laos. She also noted that cargo ships have a much larger carrying capacity than trucks.
Good news for other river ports in Laos and Myanmar as Guan Lei reopens. The majority of Laos’s ports remain closed, so for the time being, cargo ships can only make the trip from Chiang Saen to cities in Myanmar.
In 2020, the value of trade processed by the Chiang Saen Customs House in Chiang Rai fell by 21%, and in 2021, it dropped by another 19%, presumably due to the pandemic.
By the end of April of this year, Thailand had seen an increase in exports of 3.9 billion baht and an increase in imports of 271 million baht. Before Covid-19, annual export growth averaged between 15 and 18 billion baht.
Chiang Rai has improved facilities at Chiang Khong and constructed a new port at Chiang Saen, now known as Chiang Saen 2, in response to increased river trade.
The original Chiang Saen Port was situated in a growth-restrictive area, and its cultural and historical significance precluded extensive renovations; consequently, a brand-new facility was constructed.
Thai-made goods are generally regarded as being of higher quality than their Chinese counterparts, but as consumers worldwide know, Chinese goods offer a significant price advantage.
Thailand has discovered an exceptional market in China for its extensive selection of exotic fruits and vegetables.
However, Thai farmers have already felt the effects of Yunnan’s cheap garlic and will continue to feel pressure until the market reaches equilibrium.
Increasing river trade has also helped Myanmar and Laos. Wan Seng and Wan Pong ports are already major entry points for Chinese goods into Myanmar.