SL awaiting Russian Govt. response

Published : 9:00 am  December 21, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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Ceylon Tea

By Sandun A Jayasekera   
Sri Lanka was awaiting a response from the Russian Government to discuss the current issues cropped up after Russia suspended export of ‘Ceylon Tea’ to Russia after an insect – Khapra Beetle – detected in a consignment of tea exported from Sri Lanka last week, a Minister said yesterday.

Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayaka addressing the weekly Cabinet news briefing said, President Maithripala Sirisena wrote to the Russain President soon after he learnt about the suspension of tea exports and a team led by him would pay a visit to Moscow immediately after the Russian government invited Sri Lanka for talks.   

Minister Dissanayaka said the government discussed problem with the Russian envoy in Colombo last Monday and Tuesday and added it was sad that certain anti government elements attempt to make the issue an advantage to them and added they must not fish in muddy waters exploiting a national issue to their benefit.    

‘I am confident that we could convince the Russians the correct position of this controversy and restore tea exports to Russia as early as mid January. I forwarded a letter to the Cabinet also on Friday explaining the truth behind the controversy,” Minister Dissanayaka said.   

Sri Lanka government learnt of the tea export ban to Russia last Friday on detecting a bug. But it was not a bug but a larva not detected anywhere in Sri Lanka. We believe that this strange species may have come into the consignment of tea from another port or from another container because we are sure that it originated not from Sri Lanka, Minister Dissanayaka stressed.   

The tea export ban to Russia affects the foreign income and tea industry negatively; no doubt about it as tea exports to Russia is around 11% of all tea exports from Sri Lanka. But it will not affect the tea prices as Sri Lanka maintains a good price in the global market for Ceylon Tea right now. Sri Lanka would take more precautionary measures to ensure the quality of Ceylon Tea exported to other countries including Russia and EU. We consider the possibility of fumigation or issuing a quality assurance certificate for each and every tea container to ensure they did not contain any foreign matter, Minister Dissanayaka said.   

Science, Technology and Research Minister Susil Premajayantha will visit Russia with a team of experts to review the situation in Russia and submit a report to the Cabinet.   

Responding to a journalist, Minister Dissanayaka said Russia may not be happy about the ban of the use of asbestos in Sri Lanka and may have played a hand in tea export ban.   He added that however, the government has deferred the ban on the use of asbestos, manufacture and import of raw material until further notice. The ban was to be effective from 1st of January, 2018. 
Pic by Nisal Baduge.