tea tastingThe Tea Exporters’ Association has proposed to the US Embassy in Colombo for the creation of awareness for superior quality of Ceylon tea amongst the US consumers and possible joint ventures between the US and Sri Lankan companies in the private sector. The TEA has had several discussions with officials in the Commercial Section of the US Embassy in Colombo on Wednesday for greater trade corporation between the US and Sri Lanka particularly targeting the tea industry, following the visit of the US Secretary of the State John Kerry.

It is hoped that these new developments in the US – Iran front and improved foreign relations between Sri Lanka, US and the Western countries will boost the demand for Ceylon Tea, Chairman of the Tea Exporters’ Association Rohan Fernando told Ceylon FT yesterday.

Judging from the content of the discussions, the Association was confident that the United States of America will extend possible assistance to expand the tea export industry. Primary, among the discussions was the prevailing trade and financial sanctions depriving free trade between Sri Lanka and Iran although Tea per-se was not an item under sanctions, the TEA Chief said.

Subsequent to the arrangement reached by the US and Iran on 14 July 2015, on the nuclear programme, there is much hope of gradual relaxation of the prevailing sanctions leading to improved direct transactions between Iran and Sri Lanka for tea exports. This will also improve the depressed sentiments at the Colombo tea auctions where prices have declined sharply, Fernando said

In this background, a meeting was arranged with the Ministry of Finance, to have in place a mechanism to facilitate direct remittance of proceeds against tea exports. The meeting was attended by the office bearers of TEA, Matthew Lowe, representing the commercial Section of the US Embassy and the Secretary to the Treasury. At this meeting it was decided to explore the possibilities of establishing contact with non-sanctioned financial institutions in Iran and or permitted channels in Dubai for clearing export proceeds.

This will certainly improve cash flow constraints of the local exporters who have held back a substantial volume of business in the recent past, Fernando remarked.(Ceylon Today)

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