China has suspended imports of dragon fruit from Vietnam following the detection of coronavirus, temporarily halting a US$1 billion market as Beijing continues its vigorous testing of inbound food shipments for virus risk.
Imports of the tropical fruit have been suspended for a week beginning on Wednesday, Vietnam’s trade ministry said on its website.
Authorities in China’s Guangxi region, bordering Vietnam, informed the ministry of the halt after the coronavirus was found on packaging and cardboard boxes shipped from Quang Ninh province.
“It is quite a rare incident,” said Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of Vietnam Vegetable and Fruit Association. “Workers at fruit-processing factories are required by the government to stay on site, test against Covid-19 regularly, and they are vaccinated.”
China is the top destination for Vietnamese dragon fruit – representing over 80 per cent of total shipments and amounting to US$1 billion a year, according to Nguyen.
Dragon fruits make up one third of Vietnam’s exports of vegetables and fruits, which was US$3.27 billion last year, he said.
The halt is the latest blow to Vietnam’s fruit trade with China, which was already seeing a decline in exports amid land transport congestion, tighter border controls and increased domestic plantings in China, said Nguyen.
China has been vigilantly testing imported foods – particularly meat and seafood – for traces of the virus, despite the World Health Organization saying there is no evidence of people catching the virus from food and food packaging.
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