Ceylon Tea a leading foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka received an unexpected boost in the Polish market recently when Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries Earl Gunasekera led a delegation of tea officials to the second largest tea consuming country in the European Union after the United Kingdom. Secretary to the Ministry of Plantation Industries Sudharma Karunaratne and Director (Promotion) of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Hasitha de Alwis were the other members of the team which received excellent support and assistance from the Sri Lanka Embassy in Warsaw to put back the Ceylon Tea glory among top decision makers of this important East European nation which is showing tremendous economic potential despite the Euro crises.
A historical meeting was initiated by Charge d’ Affairs of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Warsaw D.S. de Silva between Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Warsaw Zofia Szalczyk, Deputy Minister Earl Gunasekera and other officials from Sri Lanka.
The bilateral trade between the two countries was highlighted at the discussions where it was recorded that the value of Sri Lanka exports to Poland has risen to USD 40 million by end of 2013 as against USD 11 million of Polish imports to Sri Lanka. The trade balance was in favour of Sri Lanka to the magnitude of USD 29 million. Ceylon Tea consisted of almost 60% of the total revenue generated by exporters to Poland.
Deputy Minister Sofia noted that Ceylon Tea is well known in Poland and the potential to grow further will be immense. She requested to look at other agricultural products for import and export to boost the bilateral trade in the future. Due to the access to the European Union, Polish products have increased in quality standards, especially grocery items. The cultivation of fruits and vegetables in Poland as well as grocery products have expanded 4 fold since 2005. Poland proposed to assist Sri Lanka in expanding economic growth through a special agency within Ministry of Agriculture dedicated for marketing and research. The feasibility of signing an MoU between the two countries for development of trade and services was also discussed. Exchange of private sector delegations between Sri Lanka and Poland was recognised as a useful tool for business expansion.
Tea Business Forum
Another significant feature of the ministerial visit to Poland was the Tea Business Forum arranged by the Sri Lanka Mission for the delegation to make presentations and network effectively with the tea trade members, media personal and other opinion makers as well as the Advertising Agencies/PR agencies. It also consisted of a very proactive questions and answer session. Director (Promotion) De Alwis made a comprehensive presentation on the tea industry of Sri Lanka and the tea market of Poland to the audience which was well accepted. The Charge de Affaires and the Deputy Minister commented on the final session with an interactive dialogue with participants. It was a well conducted Business Forum and Ceylon Tea received positive mileage.
The opportunity was also utilised by the delegation to meet several Advertising Agencies/PR agencies to discuss strategic marketing and communication plans for Ceylon Tea in Poland for 2014.
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