Sri Lanka Aug tea exports jump 41 pct, set for year record: official

COLOMBO, September 25, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s tea exports rose more than 40 percent in the first eight months of the year and are on track to earn a record 1.4 billion dollars this year, the tea board said Thursday. Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth-largest producer of tea behind China, India and Kenya.

Tea shipments climbed 41 percent to 883 million dollars from January to August over the same period a year earlier, driven by strong demand from Russia and the oil exporting nations of the Middle East, the Sri Lanka Tea Board said.

Sri Lanka, the world’s largest tea exporter after Kenya, has benefited from the recent global commodity boom with its tea fetching the highest average auction prices on world markets all of this year.

“We’ve enjoyed good weather and the companies have applied fertiliser at the right time despite high world prices (for fertilisers),” said Anil Cooke, senior vice president of privately run Asia Siyaka Commodity brokers.

Tea is of key importance to the economy of Sri Lanka, which is in the grips of a bitter ethnic civil war, since it is the country’s biggest agricultural export.

Sri Lanka’s tea shipments climbed 9.7 percent to 220.3 million kilogrammes (484.6 million pou