In a decision made earlier this year the Cairo and Istanbul offices were closed down in view of relocating them to potential growth markets.
Tea Board officials say the EU and the Far East including Australia and New Zealand accounted for a small percentage of Sri Lankan tea exports.
Director, Tea Promotion Bureau, Hasitha de Alwis said, l” Markets are opening up especially in East and Central Europe. These regions with more stable economies are the best target markets for Ceylon tea in the long term. A presence in the region also opens up the possibilities of reaching virgin markets like Rumania, Bulgaria and Albania.”
Europe currently occupies 13 percent of the global black tea market with Sri Lanka exporting less than five percent to the region.
The Board is hoping to develop the EU as a stable market as the two largest importers of Sri Lankan Tea -CIS/Russia and the Middle East, were volatile markets.
Any global repercussions in these markets through the ongoing conflict are likely to impact the local trade, drastically dropping export volumes and Colombo tea auction prices.
A recent study by American Consultancy Firm A T Keay revealed that as much as 50 to 55 percent of our exports reach potentially risky markets in the Middle East and the Gulf.
With largely oil-based economies in this region, importing countries like Russia and CIS have been tagged volatile.
Preliminary findings of the study also revealed that Syria, absorbing 10 percent of Sri Lankan teas has a low purchasing power.
Meanwhile, The Far East and the Austral Asian region is expected to grow as a value added market.
” The Far Easte market is a growing market for value added commodities and premium products. The market is moving towards a flavored tea and tea bag market and it is only practical to make a claim in these markets. An office in Singapore would act as a springboard to reach these areas,” Alwis said.
” We need to concentrate on entering new markets in addition to sustaining existing one. It is not practical to have four offices concentrating on two regions, we need to look at new territory.