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This paper examines patterns of recent change in China's international export trade in high quality fresh-vegetables between 2002 and 2005 since its WTO membership and some of the underlying determinants that will determine its future export opportunities. Concepts of product quality are first reviewed and the key characteristics of China's international trade in fresh produce are outlined based on a detailed analysis from the UN Comtrade international trade data at the 2, 4 digit and finally 6 digit levels. High quality fresh and chilled vegetables are identified through their average unit export values. In 2005, China was the 4th largest exporter of vegetables in the world with a 9.8 percent share of world trade, and almost a 6 percent share in fresh and chilled vegetables. The competitiveness of China in world trade in high value fresh produce is assessed through a trade-shares accounting and decomposition approach which enables both structural and performance effects on China's exports to be isolated, and the contributions its major trading partners have made to changes its share of world trade. China's aggregate market share rose by over 1.5 percentage points over the period, and there is evidence of an emerging orientation in its trade shares from E Asia to SE Asia, and to further progress in the Russian Federation and US markets. China's underlying comparative advantage in such labour-intensive products is reflected in the positive performance effect on the increase in its market share.


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