Bangladeshi lemon, jackfruit, mango and guava have considerable potentials in the growing Chinese market where consumption of such juicy fruits is gradually gaining ground.
Such agro items would not only be financially viable for entrepreneurs of both the countries but also giving enough impetus to Bangladesh's basket of limited exportable products, officials, consumers and businesses said.
At the same time, they expressed the hope that such item would be able to dominate the Chinese market once these products would get entry because of mouthwatering taste of Bangladeshi fruits.
Bangladesh has good reputation of exporting such products to the European, Middle Eastern and African markets.
Despite duty-free facility by the Chinese government, the retail prices of imported lemon, jackfruit and mango are seven to eight times Bangladeshi products.
Though the Chinese government imposed 80 per cent duty on imported guava, the Bangladeshi variety would be economically viable for traders because of its availability at cheaper rate.
Currently, China imported those items from Australia, the United States of America (USA), Thailand, Vietnam, Peru and the Chinese Taipei to meet the growing consumer demand.
In recent times, China with 1.4 billion consumers has outsourced mangoes from neighbouring Myanmar.
According to the official statistics, China imported fresh or dried lemons and limes (HS Code 08055000) worth $28 million followed by mangoes (HS Code 08045020) $17.7 million, jackfruits (08134090), $5.2 million and guava (HS Code 08045010) $1.8 million in 2016.
Visiting various markets, including the superstores in Beijing, it was found that the demand for the imported juicy fruits has gradually been increasing despite high prices.
For example, the average price of two pieces of lemon is ?10, which is equivalent to nearly Tk 128 as the exchange rate is ?1.0=Tk 12.79.
Talking to the FE, an employee of Happiness Mart, a superstore located at Jianguomen of Chaoyang district in Beijing, said that like other nationals, the Chinese like to eat juicy fruits like lemon, mango, jackfruit and guava.
"That's why, the demand for these products is growing gradually, which also pushes up the imports of fruits," he added.
When contacted, Commercial Counsellor at the Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing Md. Mahfuzul Alam Khan said they had been trying hard to include these juicy fruits in the list of export items to China but it was a complicated and lengthy process.
"Now, we're trying to convince large superstores like Carrefour because if they take the responsibility it would be easier for them," he said.
Talking about the potentials of these items, Mr. Khan said that one piece of guava costs between ?6 and ?8 but the importers can buy Bangladeshi guava in less than ?1.0. "So, Bangladeshi guava will have price advantage and will be very competitive even after paying 80 per cent of import duty."
Vice Chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Bijoy Bhattacharjee said the government was working hard on ensuring GAP (good agricultural practice) considering the potential of Bangladeshi agro products in overseas markets.
As part of the measures, the department of agricultural extension is encouraging the farmers not to use insecticides in their field and promote natural cultivation methodology to maintain SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures), he said.
"That's why, we're promoting contract farming to maintain quality and standards. Of course, there are potentials of Bangladeshi food items and fruits. We're working on it to grab the Chinese market," he added.
Md. Sharifur Rahman, Proprietor of M/S, Shohan Enterprise that exports lemon, mango and other fruits to the European market, said his company had been exporting agro products to the highly-regulated markets like the United Kingdom.
"One thing I can say right now is we're capable of exporting quality products to China and we've enough stock too. We just need a jumpstart in the Chinese market," he said.
Bangladesh's total merchandise exports to China were $808.14 million in the financial year 2015-16, which was only $319.66 million in 2010-11.
This means Bangladesh's shipment to China has grown at an annual average of 30 per cent in the last five years.
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) data shows that import from China was about $9.8 billion in 2015-16, which was $5.9 billion in 2010-11.
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