Ceylon tea ban lifted after Sri Lanka allows Russian asbestos
ECONOMYNEXT – Russia will lift a ban on Ceylon Tea from December 30 imposed after claims of finding a beetle, officials said, after Sri Lanka lifted a ban on asbestos that was to have been taken effect from next year.
Plantations Minister Navin Dissanayake was quoted as saying by Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper that Russian authorities had wanted stricter phytosanitary measures imposed on Sri Lanka exports.
Russia banned tea from Ceylon from December 18, after the state agricultural protection agency Rosselkhoznadzor claimed that a ‘Khapra beetle was found in a shipment of tea.
The tea ban was widely viewed as retaliation for an asbestos ban by Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers reversed the ban last week.
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena had earlier banned imports of asbestos ostensibly on health grounds. Asbestos is believed to be a carcinogen for workers who may inhale dust.
But the Sri Lanka Ceramics and Glass Council, a powerful protectionist lobby which had used political influence artificially make tiles and sanitaryware more expensive for Sri Lankans trying to build a house, had claimed credit for influencing the President.
The Ceramics and Glass Council had wanted asbestos pushed out of the market to force the people of Sri Lanka to use clay tiles in a nationalist move.
However the move backfired because Russia, itself an authoritarian-nationalist nation state headed by Vladimir Putin.
Sri Lanka also has to get back to evidence-based policy making to avoid ad hoc decisions that lead to trade wars, analysts say.
While it may be acceptable to grant freedoms to people overnight, when restrictions are brought wide consultation, careful consideration and time is needed to prevent ad hoc decision-making and push back. (Colombo/Dec26/2017)