Sri Lanka optimistic of a prompt resolution to the tea ban – Minister

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen says Sri Lanka is optimistic of a quick resolution to the ban on its tea exports imposed by the Russian Federation.

�Russia and Sri Lanka have long-standing friendly and cordial relations. This ban is not a refusal of Sri Lanka by Russia but only a temporary stoppage of one export product from us. Only reason for our concern is that nearly 80% of our exports to Russia is Ceylon Tea,” Minister Bathiudeen said.

He praised the President Maithripala Sirisena for his prompt action in contacting highest levels of the Russian government to resolve this. “I am optimistic on a quick solution,” Minister Bathiudeen said.

In 2016 Russia ranked as the second largest buyer of all types of Ceylon Teas (including green tea made in Sri Lanka) at US$ 143 Million behind the leading buyer, Iran at US$ 154.10 million. However, in 2015 Russia was the topmost buyer of Ceylon Tea at US$ 156.65 million, and the second leading buyer was Turkey.

According to Department of Commerce, nearly 74% of Sri Lanka’s exports to Russia in 2016 was Ceylon Tea at a value of US$ 143 million (while total exports to Russia in the same year was US$ 182 million).

Over the years, total tea exports to Russia has shown a declining trend – US$ 240.32 million in 2013, $ 228.27 mllion in 2014, $ 156.65 million in 2015 and US$ 142.55 million in 2016.

Ceylon Tea exports to Russia from January to August this year totaled US$ 114.18 million (83% of all types of Lankan exports to Russia from January to August 2017).

Other main items that Sri Lanka exports to Russia are apparel, vegetable textile fibers, other clothing accessories (including gloves).

Sri Lanka’s total trade (both imports and exports) with the Russian Federation which was at US$ 435.83 million in 2015 declined to US$ 381.71 million in 2016. This year in January to August period, it reported a total of US$ 260.78 million.

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