Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said that the restrictions imposed by Russia is not a total ban on Sri Lankan products by Russia but only a suspension of one item.
“I am optimistic of a quick solution. Russia and Sri Lanka have long-standing friendly and cordial relations. The only reason for our concern is that nearly 80% of our exports to Russia is Ceylon Tea. We praise President Maithripala Sirisena for his prompt action in contacting the highest levels of the Russian Government to resolve this,” the Minister said following urgent consultations with his officials.
Last year (2016) Russia ranked as the second largest buyer of all types of Ceylon Teas (including green tea made in Sri Lanka) at $ 143 Mn–the leading buyer in 2016 was Iran, at $ 154.10 Mn. However, in 2015 Russia was the topmost buyer of Ceylon Tea at $156.65 Mn, and the second leading buyer was Turkey.
Yesterday President Maithripala Sirisena said he will make an official request from Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the restrictions imposed on Sri Lanka tea imports.
The Russian agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor announced last week that Russia will place temporary restrictions on imports of all agricultural products from Sri Lanka, including tea, from December 18.
The watchdog said it had taken the decision to impose restrictions after it found an insect, known as the Khapra beetle, in the packaging of one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka.