Record tea exports Jan-May

June 21, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka shipped more tea to overseas markets for the five month to May, earning a record 35 billion rupees, a commodity broker said Wednesday. For the five month period, the tropical island shipped 128.0 million kilos, higher than 112.76 million kilos sold during the same period 2005.

The shipments helped export earnings rise 15 percent to 35.3 million rupees. “In US dollars too these earnings convert to a highest ever 346 million dollars, surpassing the boom year of 1998,” Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers said.

A lion share of export revenue came from bulk tea, with the island shipping 77.1 million kilos, followed by packet tea 32.32 million kilos.

Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States dominated the market buying 31 million kilos during the five-month period.

Markets of United Arab Emirates (14.6 million kilos), Syria (13.6 million kilos) and Iran (9.9 million kilos) helped bring up the rear during the period.

Exports in May rose 18 percent to 29 million kilos, which brought in revenues of 7.9 billion rupees (up 21 percent)  an all time high for a single month.

Ceylon tea, as the commodity is popularly known, is the biggest single net foreign exchange earner for the island’s 24 billion dollar economy. However, Sri Lanka faces stiff competition from Kenya in the global market.