Sweet Teas

Buyers set aside developments in the Middle East to step up buying at Tuesdays low grown tea auctions, pushing up prices in the process.
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Brokers said that buyers were paying at least Rs 5.00 over last weeks prices, a welcome development for low grown plantations and leaf suppliers ahead of the Sinhala Tamil New Year. rn Very little teas were left unsold at Tuesdays low grown auction, a positive trend brokers expect will continue after the New Year. Vice President of Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers, Anil Cooke said Tuesdays auction saw widespread demand and was the best since the war on Iraq commenced. Brokers said the small quantity of tea left from the auction was not sold due to buyers and sellers not agreeing on price - a normal practice in weekly tea auctions and not due to a lack of demand.

Meanwhile, Egypt is tipped to lower the duty on tea imports from Sri Lanka under the current free trade negotiations. The tea industry is calling zero duty on tea imports from Sri Lanka down from the present 15 per cent to 30 per cent duty slapped on shipments to Egypt. An Egyptian delegation arrived in Sri Lanka earlier this week to discuss the free trade agreement. In addition, brokers also say that Pakistan could step up its tea imports under its free trade agreement with the Sri Lanka. The local tea trade has also been lobbying for duty concessions on imports into Pakistan under free trade pact.

Sri Lanka's exports to Pakistan have been falling with exports standing at 2.7 MT or 2.56 percent in 2001 due to a prohibitive duty structure and high prices. But despite a declining market share over the past few years, Pakistan is still viewed as a prime market with Ceylon tea still enjoying high recognition status. Pakistan has one of the highest duty structures for any tea consuming country, acting as a stumbling block to free trade.
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