Which way forward for China's vegetable exports?
Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine patterns of recent changes in China's international export trade in vegetable products between 2001 and 2005 following China's membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and to measure consequent changes in its export competitiveness. It also aims to consider infrastructural issues in relation to supply chain and food safety issues which may affect China's future potential export growth in vegetables. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The comparative advantage of China's vegetable sector is measured through an export specialisation index. A trade-shares accounting framework is used to identify the sources of change in China's aggregate market shares. An import demand function for China's vegetable exports is estimated. Findings ‐ The paper finds that China has a comparative advantage in vegetable production and exporting. Although there have been negative structural changes in vegetable imports in many of China's major overseas markets, particularly East Asia, China's export share of those markets and its overall world market share has increased since WTO membership. China's export growth rate has exceeded the global average for most vegetable categories. Penetration of SE Asian markets has been price driven, but there is little evidence that China's WTO membership has enabled greater penetration into EU markets for its vegetable exports. Originality/value ‐ There have been many studies of the potential impact of China's WTO membership on world trade in agri-food products, but none examining its actual impact in the labour intensive vegetable sector. Although the methodologies applied are well established, their empirical application in the context of China's vegetable export sector in this article are original, and present a context against which to view China's future vegetable export prospects.