Nga Minh is one of dragon fruit trading shops do not trade domestically, but export exclusively to China. Chinese dealers are dominating the market for dragon fruit, manipulating supply and prices in Bình Thuận Province. — Photo tuoitre.vn
HCM CITY — Chinese dealers are dominating the market for dragon fruit, manipulating supply and prices in Bình Thuận Province, provincial authorities have said.
Vietnamese owners of major wholesale shops that trade dragon fruit in Hàm Thuận Nam and Hàm Thuận Bắc districts are dealing with Chinese traders behind the scenes, according to reports in local media.
In the first half of the year, the Bình Thuận police said that 12 Chinese nationals had been caught conducting illegal activities. Much of the illegal trade was in dragon fruit.
The police levied administrative fines on all the violators.
“Some local traders, lured by profit, have leased their legally licensed businesses to Chinese nationals,” a local official in Hàm Thuận Nam District, who declined to be named, said.
The shops, with big billboards in both Vietnamese and Chinese, can accept trailer trucks that load huge amounts of fruit at one time.
Bình Thuận is home to Việt Nam’s largest cultivation area for dragon fruit, with a total of 22,000 hectares.
Most dragon fruit trading shops do not trade domestically, but export exclusively to China.
Three of the shops include Nga Minh, Tâm Hường and Xuân Tình in Hàm Thuận Nam District.
The shops are run by Vietnamese, but the owners are actually two Chinese men who go by the Vietnamese names Phú and Quý.
Local media have reported deceptive practices to buy dragon fruit from local farmers at low prices.
Nguyễn Thị Phước, a local dragon fruit farmer, explained “Chinese traders come in the morning and offer to buy at a relatively high price before returning later with a much lower price.”
The farmers, who agree by word-of-mouth and have no contract, believe they will get a good price. But then later they are told the price has been lowered.
Phước said she had no choice but to accept the lower price, as the fruit had been picked after the traders made the first bid.
When they offer the cheaper price upon returning to the farmer, the traders will often justify the price by saying the fruit “does not look good” or “is of low quality”.
In the past, some Vietnamese traders sourced fruit directly from local farms, but now have reluctantly switched to working for the Chinese.
Phước said that most Vietnamese fruit traders said they could not compete with Chinese-backed traders, who were dominating the market.
Ngô Minh Hùng, deputy director of Bình Thuận Province’s Department of Industry and Trade, said that Chinese nationals were associated with 26 businesses in Hàm Thuận Nam District.
“We have found that 10 shops have Chinese buying, packaging and exporting dragon fruit,” Hùng said.
The Chinese nationals often do business by first paying Vietnamese to rent a house for trading. They then use the name of a Vietnamese company to buy and sell dragon fruit to Chinese traders for export.
In a related issue, the dragon fruit market in the southern province of Long An is also allegedly being manipulated by a group of Chinese traders, who have entered the country on tourist visas, according to provincial authorities.
Chinese nationals, for example, have applied for temporary residence in Châu Thành District, but they have not engaged in any tourism activity.
Instead, they have visited local dragon fruit farms to buy fruit and flowers, according to Nguyễn Văn Thịnh, the district’s chairman.
District authorities have called on government agencies to work with police and keep a close watch on the illegal trading activities.
Local residents have also been told to report foreigners with tourist visas who trade but do not have licences to do so. — VNS