Friday, September 30, 2011

Syria shock for tea

By Uditha Jayasinghe

Reeled by the overall crisis in the Middle East, the country’s tea industry has got a fresh jolt with Syria banning imports in value added form though the Government is cautioning undue panic was unwarranted.

As part of a national policy Syria has banned all imports carrying a tariff of over 5% and tea in packets and bags come under the move.

Industry sources said that Syria is by far the biggest market for Sri Lanka’s export of tea in packets. Exports to Syria are estimated at 28 million kilos of which over 12 million kilos are shipped in value added form.

In the first eight months of this year, tea exports to Syria amounted to 18.6 million kilos of which 86% were in packeted form.

A considerable share of exports to Syria is transported to Turkey and other countries making Syria a captive market for Ceylon tea in addition to it commanding a 90% market share.

Analysts said that following the ban a larger quantity of tea might get shipped in bulk form thereby reducing earnings. Owing to widespread unrest and other problems in the Middle East, prices for tea have been depressed especially in recent months.

Midst exporter concerns, Sri Lanka Tea Board cautioned the tea industry not to panic.

“There are two types of Sri Lankan tea exports to Syria, one that is a package of 3kg or above and one package type that is 3kg or below.

It is the second kind that has a tariff of 10% that could fall under this ban,” Tea Board Promotions Director Hasitha de Alwis told the Daily FT.

“However, there is no need to panic yet,” he stressed adding that the Syrian business community has retained the support of the government despite the political unrest engulfing the country. “We are hopeful that this matter will be sorted out and are so far confident that the appeals of the Syrian traders and businessmen will be listened to by their government,” de Alwis said.
Syria shock…

The business community and chambers of Syria have made representations to the   Minister of Economy and Trade Mohammad Nidal Al-Shaar to remove this ban and de Alwis insisted that reports indicate that these appeals are being met favourably. 

Minister Mohammad Nidal Al-Shaar has also insisted that the ban will be “temporary.”

source -

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