KUWAIT: The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Kuwait hosted a gathering of businessmen and media representatives to introduce Sri Lanka’s growing $1.6 billion tea business contributing 15 percent to the nation’s foreign exchange. Kuwait imported around 12.3 million kilograms of tea in 2014 and 16.1 million kilograms in 2013.
The ‘tea talk’ was presented by Hasitha De Alwis, Director Promotion from Sri Lanka Tea Board Middle East and Africa. Sri Lankan Ambassador to Kuwait Kandeepan Bala welcomed guests and lauded Kuwait Sri-Lanka’s bilateral relations in all areas from economy to politics and tourism.
The head of tea promotion, who is based in Dubai, said the world witnessed the never seen unity of Sri Lankan Republic as the country now is united after 30 long years of conflict, reaping the fruit of peace and tranquility in the form of economic growth, tourism and trust of people from all over the world. “Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-linguistic nation once again in harmony after the war and because of that, there has been immense opportunities for sustainable growth in all sectors and of course the tea industry is no exception,” he added.
Tea earns Sri Lanka $1.65 billion in annual revenue. “Thanks to the tea industry wherein the country is known for especially in the production and export of black tea. The tea we produce is globally recognized and the Ceylon Tea name itself is synonymous with superior quality. We want everyone to know that our tea is produced with lots of attention as we continue to invade the world market in this sector,” he mentioned. Colombo is known the largest single original tea auction center in the world, disposing 99percent of all sales, and the champion in sustainable auction prices.
Explaining the huge disparity of Kuwait’s tea import in the year 2013 and 2014, “Basically it was because some of the tea brought here (2013) were re-exported by Kuwait to Iraq since they are affected by the crisis. So Kuwait served as a gateway to sending tea products to other countries in the Middle East affected by the crisis,” De-Alwis explained.
“Sri Lanka’s tea industry will celebrate 150 years of commercial history in 2017. We will arrange about six months of celebrations with this regard and we want you all to visit and experience the hospitality of the Sri Lankan people. The tea industry continues to occupy a pivotal position in terms of foreign exchange earnings and employment. The foreign currency earnings from tea covered the entire food import bill of Sri Lanka in 2013 as well as 2014,” he said.
The tea industry employed directly and indirectly 10 percent of the population of Sri Lanka, with around 2 million people directly or indirectly dependent on the industry.
To look for authentic ‘Ceylon Tea Brands’ De Alwis said people should only see the lion seal logo with 100 percent Ceylon Tea label (above a minimum reference standard) as they are registered in 102 countries as a trade mark.
By Ben Garcia