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FOCUS: Sri Lankan tea exports set for record 300 mil. kg.

COLOMBO, Nov. 7 Kyodo

Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (srē läng`kə) [Sinhalese,=resplendent land], formerly Ceylon, ancient Taprobane, officially Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, island republic (2005 est. pop.  is set to maintain its position as the world's largest tea exporter this year, with production poised to reach an all-time high 320 million kilograms because of ''big potential buyers'' such as Russia, India and China.

With the increase in production, exports are expected to hit the 300 million kg mark for the first time, with domestic consumption usually not exceeding 25 million kg, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 tea industry officials.

In 1999, production reached a new high of 283 million kg, of which 263 million kg was exported.

''Most satisfactory is that we achieved this high production without adding an inch of land to cultivated area,'' said Hasitha de Alwis, director of the Ceylon Tea Promotions Bureau. ''It was mainly a result of privatization privatization: see nationalization.

Transfer of government services or assets to the private sector. State-owned assets may be sold to private owners, or statutory restrictions on competition between privately and publicly owned
 of tea plantations.''

He said the use of high-yielding varieties High-yielding varieties (HYVs) are any of a group of genetically enhanced cultivars of crops such as rice, maize and wheat that have an increased growth rate, an increased percentage of usable plant parts or an increased resistance against crop diseases. , scientific methods for harvesting and plucking Plucking describes the process of removing human hair, animal hair, or a bird's feathers by mechanically pulling the item from the owner's body.

In humans, this is done for personal grooming purposes, usually with tweezers. An epilator is a motorised hair plucker.
, and introduction of new machinery were factors that led to the increased production.

Sri Lanka in recent years has been scouting scouting: see Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts.

Activities of various national and worldwide organizations for youth aimed at developing character, citizenship, and individual skills. Scouting began when Robert S.
 for new markets to offset losses in traditional European markets.

''Russia will be the top buyer this year as its share is likely to be around 50 million kg,'' de Alwis said.

''Only last week, the two countries signed another agreement under which Russia will buy another 20 million kg of tea.'' In 1999, Russia was the second biggest buyer with 38 million kg, following the United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates, federation of sheikhdoms (2005 est. pop. 2,563,000), c.30,000 sq mi (77,700 sq km), SE Arabia, on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.  with 41 million kg.

Sri Lanka has also identified China and India as two potentially big buyers. While China is yet to make large purchases, India has granted duty concessions for 15 million kg of Sri Lankan tea under the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement that came into effect this year.

''However, hurdles are yet to be cleared and only 26,461 kg could be exported to India until the end of September this year,'' said a spokesman for the Ceylon Tea Board. ''That is only 2% of the allotted al·lot  
tr.v. al·lot·ted, al·lot·ting, al·lots
1. To parcel out; distribute or apportion: allotting land to homesteaders; allot blame.

 quota for the second quarter of 2000.''

Carlo Perera of Akbar Brothers, a leading tea exporter, said the lack of concerted efforts to expedite agreed clauses of the agreement between the two countries was the reason behind tea exports to India not picking up despite attractive duty waivers.

''India allows only two entry points for Sri Lankan tea -- Cochin and Calcutta,'' he pointed out, adding ''Unless Mumbai and Chennai are included, exports will not pick up.''

Perera also agreed there were other factors such as the lack of awareness of popular Sri Lankan brands in India. He said Sri Lanka could import more Indian tea and sell back tea bags and other up-market quality tea products to India. ''For that, India should waive To intentionally or voluntarily relinquish a known right or engage in conduct warranting an inference that a right has been surrendered.

For example, an individual is said to waive the right to bring a tort action when he or she renounces the remedy provided by law for such
 off the 'country of origin' clause,'' he said.

The Tea Promotions Board believes Sri Lankan exporters should target the upper segment of the huge Indian market.

''Quality tea products can be sold to the top bracket of the Indian market, the upper middle class, which is looking increasingly for quality and does not mind paying a high price for top products,'' said de Alwis.

Trade Ministry officials said Sri Lanka will try to crack open China's lucrative tea market next year. Similarly, the Ceylon Tea Board will promote tea in Japan by participating in trade fairs, a spokesman said.

While India is the world's biggest tea producer, Sri Lanka is the biggest exporter. India and Sri Lanka together account for about 60% of the world's black tea export market.

Although the Sri Lankan tea export volume has increased, tea prices have remained more or less stagnant for a long time, resulting in only a small increase in foreign exchange earnings.

''A decade ago a kilogram kilogram, abbr. kg, fundamental unit of mass in the metric system, defined as the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram, a platinum-iridium cylinder kept at Sèvres, France, near Paris.  of tea was $1.80 and now it is $1.90-2.10. The increase is negligible compared to the price hike of other products,'' said Tilak Alawattegama, a tea consultant at John Keels John A. Keel (born March 25, 1930) is a fortean author and professional journalist currently residing in New York City, New York, USA.

John Keel is arguably one of the most widely read and influential ufologists since the early 1970s.

''Sri Lanka must go for up-market products to increase tea earnings,'' he said.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Nov 13, 2000
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