SHANGHAI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Avocados used to be an exotic fruit that came with a high price tag in China, but no more, thanks to rising trade with Latin America.
In 2017, China imported over 30,000 tonnes of the fruit, over 1,000 times the amount in 2011. Along with the soaring volume, the price dropped from about 50 yuan (7.56 U.S. dollars) to 10 yuan per avocado on the domestic retail market.
Vladimir Kocerha, economic and commercial counselor of Peru in Shanghai, said the avocado trade had benefited from China's cuts in import tariffs and continous increases in imports of Latin American fruit.
China imported 8,800 tonnes, 16,700 tonnes, and 6,700 tonnes of the nutritious-rich fruit from Mexico, Chile and Peru, respectively last year.
Among the three countries, Chile leads the avocado trade, because it ensures a steady output and zero tariffs under a Sino-Chile free trade agreement, according to Shanghai Supafresh Trading, a long-time Chinese fruit trader.
Kocerha said that as Sino-Peru trade grows, Chinese trading and logistics companies are investing more in Peru, making fruit delivery more convenient. Peruvian avocados can reach the Chinese market in about one week via air transport, with lower transport costs than before.
He said that tens of thousands of Peruvians were employed in the avocado trade. With avocados as a "pioneer," the country hopes to export more fruit as well as wool products to China.
Increasing agricultural exports are expected to help create 1.3 million new jobs in Peru in 2018, up 15 percent year on year, according to the country's export association.
In 2017, bilateral trade between China and Peru exceeded 20 billion U.S. dollars for the first time.
In addition to avocados, Chilean cherries are selling well. China imported 125,000 tonnes of Chilean cherries in season in 2017 and 2018, a record high, according to the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association.
China is now the third largest export market for Latin America. Exports to China accounted for 10 percent of the region's total exports in 2017, up from just one percent in the year 2000.
Uruguayan beef, Mexican beer and Brazilian oranges are among the best-selling Latin American products in China, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean.
Juan Varilias Velasquez, president of the Association of Exporters of Peru, said the upcoming China International Import Expo in November was an opportunity that Latin American countries would not miss.
"We will bring the best samples we have from our country," he said.
Alexander Mora, minister of foreign trade of Costa Rica, said that in the year of 2017, Costa Rica's exports to China grew by 189 percent. The country is eyeing increased exports based on consumer needs in different regions of China.
Claude Sarrailh, president of Metro Jinjiang Cash & Carry Co. Ltd. based in Shanghai, said that the company mainly sourced specialties from European and East Asian countries for the China market, but would like to introduce more goods from Latin America because Chinese customers wanted more choice.
Deeper collaboration between China and Latin America is driving trade, said Sarrailh. China has set up free trade zones in Chile, Peru and Costa Rica, and is upgrading free trade agreements with Latin American countries.