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Sun, 23 November 2014 14:23:18
Sri Lanka June tea exports fall
29 Jul, 2009 16:20:07
July 29, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's tea exports fell in June from a year ago with earnings for the first half buoyed by the rupee's depreciation against the dollar, brokers said.
Prices at this week's Colombo auction also fell from the week before, mainly on lower quality.

Shipments of tea in June fell eight percent to 26.7 million kilos from a year ago while export earnings also fell marginally to 12.05 billion rupees, Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers said.

The only growth came from tea bag exports while tea in packets and tea in bulk fell during the month, they said.

Sri Lanka's tea production fell sharply in the first few months of the year owing to a severe drought and the lagged effects of last year's commodity market crash that led to the neglect of bushes.

Brokers Asia Siyaka Commodites said total exports during the six months to June 2009 were down 15 percent to 134.5 million kilos compared with the same 2008 period.

The shortfall of 24 million kilos so far this year is equal to an average month’s export quantity.

The earnings were seemingly better with the current year, down 11 percent against a 15 percent drop in quantity, the brokers said.

The country earned 58 billion rupees during the January-June 2009 period compared with 67 billion rupees in the same 2008 period.

"In US dollars however, this converts to about 506 million dollars against 624 million dollars in 2008," Asia Siyaka Commodities said.

"The US dollar earning loss is 19 percent and indicates that a significant proportion of the rupee gains had come from depreciation of the currency against the US dollar."

The average FOB (free on board) price of a kilo of tea in the first half of 2009 is 3.76 dollars against 3.93 dollars a year ago.

The rupee, which started weakening in September 2008, was allowed by the central bank to float in late March 2009 ahead of an IMF bailout which was approved only last week.

The rupee even dipped below 120 to the dollar in late April before recovering, traded around 119 in early May and is now around 114 - 115.

Brokers said prices of most teas fell sharply at the Colombo auctions this week mainly because of lower quality.

Most BOP types of tea grown in the western slopes of the central highlands fell .20-30 rupees a kilo and BOPF types 40-50 rupees.

Teas from the eastern slopes, particularly those with "seasonal character" from the Uva region, went up in price.

The low grown teas, which are the mainstay of the auction, also were lower in price.

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