KUNMING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- At the Dounan wholesale flower market in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, workers are busy loading fresh flowers, including roses and lilies, into a refrigerated truck.
The truck will travel the 1,800-km-long Kunming-Bangkok expressway via Laos, and the flowers will be available for sale at a Bangkok market within 48 hours.
Kunming is known as China's "spring city" as its warm climate allows flowers of various kinds to blossom during all four seasons.
Last year, the province's flower plantation area reached 88,000 hectares, with an output value of 46.37 billion yuan (7 billion U.S. dollars).
Dounan is China's largest fresh flower wholesale market, selling flowers not only to domestic cities, but also to countries including Russia, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Chen Juan, manager of Jinyuan International Logistics Company, said the volume of flowers the company delivers to Thailand has increased by an average of 10 percent every year since it began operations in 2009, reaching 5,000 tonnes in 2016.
The road connecting Kunming and Bangkok, which opened in 2008, has become a major freight route between China's Yunnan Province and Southeast Asian countries.
In September, the Chinese section of the road was extended to become an expressway, which has further reduced delivery times.
Trucks delivering flowers from Kunming can now arrive in Bangkok in just 36 hours. These trucks don't return empty, but transport Thai fruit, such as mangosteen, durian, grapefruit and longan, to Kunming, which will later be sold in other Chinese cities.
Zhang Tangning, marketing manager of Kunming-based fruit company Caihang, said that over the past decade, the company's sales revenue has increased from just 2 million yuan to over 30 million.
He said before the Kunming-Bangkok expressway was built, tropical fruit was primarily imported by shipping services via ports in Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
"The shipping time took longer, resulting in higher fruit losses and greater costs," he said.
Zhang's company is based in Jinmazhengchang, a major fruit wholesale market covering over 8.7 hectares, which attracts 3,000 fruit wholesalers and tens of thousands of customers every day.
To ensure the quality and supply of fruit, he has contracted fruit farms and built a refrigerated warehouse in Thailand.
Bi Jianwei, a spokesperson for the market, said the volume of fruit imported from Thailand via the market has increased by 20 percent every year.
Siraprapa Inpa, a Thai student at Yunnan Normal University, said that despite being over 1,000 miles from home, she is able to buy fruit from her hometown right outside the door of her dorm.
"I can find mangosteen and longan at the supermarket and fruit stores on campus. It is very convenient," she said.
Inpa is studying international economics and trade and plans to find a job in China-Thailand trades after graduation.
Yu Haiqiu from the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences said China-Thailand trade in agricultural products has seen robust growth since 2003, when the two countries lifted duties on fruit and vegetables. The Kunming-Bangkok expressway has also helped facilitate trade.
"More Thai goods will be able to be delivered to China in a shorter time and at a lower cost once the China-Thailand railway opens," he said.
Thailand will begin construction of the first phase of the railway project no later than November, once the environmental impact assessment report is approved, the Thai Minister of Transport, Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, told Xinhua in an interview last month.