Tea imports into Pakistan fell by 12 percent in the first quarter this year to stand at 29.9 mn kilos.
The lowered volumes mirror a booming market for smuggled tea, with as much as 30 mn kilos entering the country through illegal trade channels.
Seizing opportunity, as one tea broker said, this could be the ideal time for Sri Lanka to fast track concessions on tea under a general Free Trade Agreement.
Cottoning in on the market would be timely, with competitor countries Kenya and India reportedly eyeing the area.
According to reports, the smuggling is resulting in huge losses in government revenue due to non-payment of duties, sales taxes and income taxes.
There is a need for Sri Lanka to actively pursue these markets to gain leverage. “We have already identified the need and are trying to push through for a trade delegation to visit these markets” , Tea Board Chairman, Ronnie Weerakoon told Lanka Business Online.
Meanwhile, Cabinet spokesman Prof. G L Peiris said today that they were exploring the option of Sri Lanka quote s tea industry making inroads into the Nigerian market through a resident mission that is to be set up there next year.