Sri Lanka to tighten controls on tea imports

July 09, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Tea Board plans to double the import duty on foreign-made teas and introduce quality certification for imports to prevent illicit blending with Ceylon Tea. . Officials say this is aimed at safeguarding the image of pure Ceylon Tea.

Under the new rules, to be gazetted soon, the import tax on orthodox tea imports is to be hiked to 50 percent of the cost, insurance and freight value from the current 25 percent, Tea Board officials said.

A limited volume of orthodox tea is allowed to be imported to be blended with Ceylon tea and re-exported. The government also allows duty free imports of specialty teas for blending and making value added products for export.

However, the import facility is used by some tea traders to bring in shipments of teas from other producing countries such as Vietnam, which are cheaper and thought to be of a lower quality.

These are then mixed with Ceylon teas or re-exported as Ceylon teas.

Sri Lankan tea producers and exporters have warned that the practice could ruin the reputation of Ceylon tea, built up over a century.

The regulators now want to improve monitoring of such tea imports and have a better m