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Sri Lanka promises to act on delayed global tea marketing effort

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s new government has promised the tea trade to launch a long-delayed global tea marketing campaign without further delay as fears grow that troubles in key markets could hit demand, an industry official said.

Rohan Fernando, Chairman of the Tea Exporters Association, said that the trade was bracing for trouble in key markets like Russia and the Middle East after having a good year in 2014.

He said the trade had held talks with the new Minister of Plantation Industries Lakshman Kiriella and Tea Board Chairman Gamini Wijayaratne.

"The global marketing campaign must start without further delay," he said. "The minister told us he would immediately get Cabinet approval to implement it."

The fund for the global marketing campaign, collected by imposing a cess on tea exports, has grown to 4.5 billion rupees but has remained unused for several years owing to delays in launching the initiative.

Fernando also said tea exports could be hit this year owing to the devaluation of the rouble in Russia which reduced buying power as well as Western sanctions against Iran and Syria.

"Last year was a good year but this year we’re going to have a lot of problems mainly because of problems in the Middle East and the rouble crisis in Russia," he said. "There are sanctions especially on Iran and Syria, two very large markets for us."