EconomyNext – Sri Lankan tea export earnings fell sharply in January 2015 from a year ago owing to lower buying power in key markets but volumes increased, with demand recovering in some Middle Eastern countries hit by political troubles.
Turkey emerged as the largest importer of Ceylon tea followed by Russia and Iraq, Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers said. Other noteworthy importers were UAE, Iran and Libya.
Markets in the Middle East had earlier been affected by political uncertainty while demand from Russia had been hit by the fall of the rouble.
Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers said Sri Lankan tea exports for January 2015 rose by 2.6 million kilos to 24.4 million kilos from a year ago with all categories – tea in bulk, packets and bags – showing an increase.
But tea export values and total earnings for the month fell sharply.
Asia Siyaka Commodities said Sri Lanka Customs data showed that despite the 12 percent increase in January 2015 tea export volumes, earnings from exports dropped to 14.9 billion rupees from 15.1 billion in January 2014.
The approximate FOB (free on board) value per kilo in 2015 fell 12 percent to 609.95 rupees from the year before.
"This hasn’t happened since January 2009 at the height of the international banking crisis," Asia Siyaka Commodities said.
US dollar earnings of tea exports in January 2015 fell to 113.3 million dollars from 117.4 million the year before.
Exports to some key destinations such as Russia and former Soviet Union states, Iran and Japan fell in January 2015 from January 2014.
But Turkey continued to perform as a "regional hub" with an improved off take while the United Arab Emirates similarly increased volumes, the brokers said.