KUNMING, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Zhao Bin has been running a Thai goods wholesale business for 10 years. After walking into his store in downtown Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province, customers feel as if they were in Thailand.
About 600 years ago, famous Chinese explorer Zheng He, with his ancestral home in Kunming, visited Thailand many times during his seven voyages, leaving behind good stories of peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit for generations.
In recent years, Kunming has become a distribution center for Thai goods sold to China because of its unique geographical advantages. Dozens of wholesalers including Zhao at Yunfang Southeast Asia Mall sell some of Thailand's hottest merchandise popular among Chinese.
Tom yum kung spices, facial cleansers and beverages fill the shelves of Zhao's store where an exotic aroma floats in the air. "It comes from Thai handmade essential oil soaps, our best-seller," said the 33-year-old.
In 2006, Zhao went to Dhonburi Rajabhat University in Bangkok as an exchange student from Kunming University. "That experience was a turning point in my life," he said.
"I was impressed by Thai people's friendliness and the culture after staying there for two years," Zhao said, adding that he liked to visit the old markets in Bangkok.
Before returning to China, he heard from a Thai friend that Thai goods were selling well in Kunming. Zhao made an immediate decision to engage in the wholesale of Thai commodities in Kunming.
However, in the early going, business was far less successful than he had expected. The biggest bottleneck was logistics, which was not as convenient a decade ago as it is today, Zhao said. It took Zhao about 20 days to ship goods via the Mekong River and then by land from Bangkok to Kunming.
It was not until 2015 that the ancillary facilities of the newly built highway linking Kunming and Bangkok and customs clearance facilitation were gradually improved. "Land transportation only takes seven to 10 days," Zhao said.
In order to open up the market, Zhao spends almost all his time in the shop. He patiently introduces the characteristics of Thai goods over and over again every time he meets a new customer. His store has gained a good reputation in Kunming, selling more than 200 kinds of goods, up from only dozens at the beginning.
The name of his store is "Suwangnapu", meaning "golden land" in Thai. There are unlimited business opportunities between China and Thailand, just like "a piece of golden land," he said.
Statistics show that the bilateral trade volume between China and Thailand in 2018 was 80.14 billion U.S. dollars, witnessing a year-on-year rise of 8.7 percent.
China and Thailand agreed to further facilitate bilateral trade and expand cooperation in agricultural trade and e-commerce, according to a joint press statement released during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's official visit to the Southeast Asian country on Tuesday.
Trade facilitation will create more opportunities for me and the booming trade will benefit the people of China and Thailand, said Zhao, whose remarks were echoed by Thanasuk Bosuk, a postgraduate student from Thailand who majors in international relations at Yunnan University.
People in Thailand and China can consume more and more exotic goods and services if the two sides work together to further facilitate bilateral trade, said Thanasuk Bosuk.
Yu Haiqiu, an expert from the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences said the facilitation of trade between China and Thailand will further promote the free flow of commodities, services and investment. "It is a practice for both countries to help people pursue a better life," Yu said.