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Fruits from ASEAN Countries Take Root in S. China
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Chinese residents in Nanning have become connoisseurs of weird-shaped fruits from the Southeast Asian countries helping the sector to bloom over the past few years.

Durian, mangosteen, lemons and many other tropical fruits are no longer rare in south China's wholesale fruit markets. "The prices of these fruits have dropped by two thirds in the last three years," said Liu Xiaman, a customer at a fruit market in Nanning, capital city of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The imports are the result of preferential import measures for some countries of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). For Guangxi it meant a radical increase in fruit imports in the first half of this year, said customs sources in Guangxi.

The region has imported a total of 328,000 tons of fruits and vegetables from the ASEAN countries during the first four months this year, valued at US$61.6 million, a year-on-year rise of 92.9 percent, according to the customs source.

"The increasing imports of fruits and vegetables from the ASEAN countries is a result of the 'early harvest program'," said Li Xinguang, an agricultural expert with China International Economic Cooperation Society, adding that the improved transportation network also contributes.

The "early harvest program," established in January 2004, is actually a tax reduction arrangement under the framework of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA). As prescribed by the program, China and the ASEAN countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Viet Nam, will remove all the tariffs on 600 agricultural products by 2006.

(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2006)

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