Sri Lanka should ‘ban’ tea imports altogether: Treasury secretary

(From left) Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director - Payments and Settlements, Central Bank; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank

May 11, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka to ‘ban altogether’ through regulatory controls all imports of tea, finance secretary P B Jayasundera has said as a section of the industry is attempting free the island to become a global blending hub. Treasury secretary P B Jayasundera speaking at a dealer conference of Dilmah, a top Sri Lanka based tea brand, said all existing imports of tea could be phased out over the next three years.

“In that context, ladies and gentlemen I am reluctant to accept any move to import tea to this nation,” he said according to a video recording sent to media.

“This nation should ban altogether importation of tea in order to ensure absolutely regulatory controls and supervision to maintain the integrity of tea, which should increase its export earning potentials three times from the current level at least over the medium term.”

Jayasundera’s remarks came as Sri Lanka’s tea exporters have revived a plan to become a hub of the global tea supply chain by freeing the island to import and blending tea, adding value not only to Sri Lankan tea but also imports.

Dilmah is among key opponents of greater liberalization of tea imports. The firm and sections of the island’s industry fear that a ‘pure Ceylon tea