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Tuesday May 30th, 2023

Sri Lanka rupee appreciation drives Ceylon Tea prices down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea prices fell 100 to 200 rupees at an auction on March 08 due to rupee strengthening steeply, amidst good demand, brokers said.

Prices of all High, Medium and Low Growns saw fell this week.

Falling tea prices, which are accompanied by falling, wheat, sugar and food prices will reduce the demand for higher wages from workers, though it may reduce profits.

Tea firms have not yet hiked wages after the central printed money, depreciated to rupee and pushed up food prices.

When currencies fall, the prices of all traded goods inflate, not just imports.

Total auction volume was 5.2 million kilograms and there was good general demand, Ceylon Tea brokers said in a report.

The weekly sale average fell from 1471.03 rupees to 1267.07 rupees from a week ago, according to data.

“At the commencement of the sale, large volumes of tea were unsold with bids realised being significantly below the percentage appreciation of the Sri Lankan Rupee,” Forbes and Walker said.

“As the sale progressed some degree of stability was reached although rupee prices, on average, recorded a decline of 200-300 rupees per kg and on the higher selling grades, perhaps up to 300-400 rupees per kg vis-à-vis the previous week’s levels,

“The total unsold volumes would perhaps be in the region of approximately 15-20 percent”.

High Growns

The High Grown sale average was down by 164.93 rupees to 1,275.12 from 1,440.05 rupees last week, Ceylon Tea Brokers said.

BP 1 was down by 100 rupees.

BOP and PF1 were down by 200 rupees while BOPF was down by 300 rupees per kilogram.

“Ex-Estate offerings totalled 0.72 million kilos up from the 0.65 million kilos of the previous week,” Forbes and Walker said

“Good demand though prices took a dip following the strengthening of the Sri Lankan Rupee”.

Well-made OP/OPA’s declined sharply, whilst teas at the lower end too fell.

A limited selection of Flavory PEK’s that were available were irregularly went down.

Orthodox leafy PEK’s in general were down by 100-200 rupees per kilo, whilst PEK1′ in general were down by 200 – 300 rupees per kg.

Best Rotavane PEK’s went down by 100 rupees per kilo and more. Others declined to a lesser extent.

Low Growns

In Low Grown Teas, OP1 and OP/OPA were down by 150 rupees.

BOP 1 was down by 175 rupees while PEK was down by 200 rupees.

The Low Growns sale average was down 229.95 rupees to 1296.98 rupees last week.

Low Growns comprised of 2.4 million kilograms.

“Leafy/Semi Leafy and Small Leaf categories met with lower demand and prices declined further as the sale progressed,” Forbes and Walker said.

In the Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues, few select OP1’s were firm, whilst the balance declined sharply.

In PEKOE/PEKOE1 select best teas together with full range of bold PEKs declined.

Cleaner below best and the rest were irregular while in FBOP/FBOP1 select best and best had a sharp decline whilst others had a lower market, Ceylon tea brokers said.

Medium Growns

Medium Grown FBOP and PEK 1 were down by 250 rupees while FBOPF1 and OP1 were down by 200 rupees.

The Medium Growns sale average was down by 153.36 rupees to 1,109.89 rupees last week.

BOP1 was down by 100 rupees per kilo whilst others fell by 150 rupees.

In OP1 select best fell by 100 rupees per kilo whilst others lower by200 rupees.

In OP/OPA select best and best were down by 200 rupees per kilo whilst below best others fell by 150 rupees. (Colombo/Mar 12/2023)

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Sri Lanka food producers on countdown; 6-months to reduce trans fat content

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan food manufacturers only have another six months to reduce the amount of trans fat in food items as the government plans to ban high trans-fat food from January 2024 onwards, an official said.

“A six-month grace period has been given to existing manufacturers, sellers and distributors whose products contain trans-fat,” an official of the Ministry of Health told EconomyNext requesting anonymity.

According to a Ministry of Health gazette issued on… a person shall not sell, offer for sale, expose or keep for sale or advertise for sale, any packaged food product containing trans-fat unless the total amount of trans-fat of such food product per 100 grams or 100 milliliters of the food product is declared on the label of such packaged food product.

However, these regulations will not be applicable for export oriented food products.

Trans-fat is a type of fat that has certain chemical properties and is usually found in processed foods such as baked goods, snack foods, fried foods, shortening, margarine, and certain vegetable oils.

Eating trans-fat increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Sri Lanka for enacting a legislation on trans-fat to protect health and prevent premature deaths from coronary heart disease, a statement from the WHO said.

“Eliminating trans-fats from food supplies is a cost-effective measure with enormous health benefits,” the statement quoting Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia said.

“By enacting legislation on trans-fat, Sri Lanka has once again demonstrated its resolve to protect and promote the health of its people”.

The regulations are coming into effect as Sri Lanka is struggling with food insecurity as the country recovers from its worst economic crisis.

However, an improvement in food security across all provinces has been recorded, according to an assessment by a Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) of two UN agencies. (Colombo/ May 30/2023)

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India extends under utilized $1 bln credit facility to Sri Lanka by one year 

ECONOMYNEXT – India has extended a $1 billion credit facility to Sri Lanka by another year after the loan that was given to help the crisis-hit island nation to continue import of essentials was not fully utilized in the 12 month period originally agreed, officials said.

Sri Lanka faced with a looming sovereign default signed the credit facility in March 2022 for one year through March 2024. However, the full $1 billion had not been utilized yet.

The Facility has been used for urgent procurement of fuel, medicines, food items and industrial raw materials, as per the requirements and priorities of Sri Lanka.

“The initial agreement was signed in 2022 March and out of the 1000 million US dollars allocated materials were imported for $576.75 mil,” Shehan Semasinghe, State Finance Minister said in his official twitter platform.

“The agreement is extended for the remaining $423.25 mil. We will prioritize the import of essential medicines till March 2024.”

Indian High Commission in Colombo said the State Bank of India (SBI) has extended the tenure of the $1 billion Credit Facility provided to Sri Lanka in response to a request from the Government of Sri Lanka.  (Colombo/May 30/2023)

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Sri Lanka President cleared to discuss cancelled LRT after soured Japan relations

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe discuss resuming a Japan funded. Light Rail Transit (LRT) project cabinet spokesman said, as the island nation is in the process of mending ties with Tokyo.

However, any such deals are likely to take place after the debt restructuring and Sri Lanka starts to repay its foreign loans to come out of default, analysts say.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unilaterally cancelled the 1.5 billion US dollar LRT and East Container Terminal (ECT) projects in 2021. Japan agreed to fund the LRT project while it was one of the tripartite members of the ECT project along with India and Sri Lanka.

The abrupt cancellation hit the diplomatic ties between the two countries and Sri Lankan government officials have said Japan had given the project to Sri Lanka at a very lower financing cost.

President Wickremesinghe returned from Japan late last week after having met top officials of the Japanese government including its prime minister.

“In recent history, due to the stopping of several agreements and proposals suddenly, President Wickremesinghe went to Japan after creating the background to clear some of the worries we have,” Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told the weekly media briefing.

“Before he went, he got the approval from the cabinet to resume the discussion on the light railway project. He got the approval from the cabinet to get parliament approval for bilateral agreements signed or any other investments project. Any change or cancellation of a project could be done only with the approval of the parliament.”

Japan has backed Sri Lanka under Wickremesinghe’s presidency after the island nation declared sovereign debt default. (Colombo/May 30/2023)

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