Sri Lanka seeks lower Russian import duty on tea

Feb 12, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has asked Russia, the biggest importer of Ceylon tea, to reduce import duty on value-added tea exports, a senior minister said. Export Development and International Trade Minister Gamini Peiris said the issue was discussed when Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during a recent visit to Moscow.

Russia was an important market Sri Lankan tea, the island™s main commodity export, he said.

Over 40 million kilos of Sri Lankan tea is exported to Russia each year, Peiris told a news conference.

But we have some issues about the Russian tax structure.

Peiris said exporters were finding it difficult to ship to Russia because of high import duty on value-added teas.

There™s a 20 percent levy on export of value-added teas, Peiris. We asked for relief and we got a very sympathetic hearing.

Industry officials said Russia had raised import duty on value-added teas to develop its own tea packing industry.