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Sunday, 13 May 2012

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Govt pledges to protect Pure Ceylon Tea

Speaking to over 200 foreign delegates at the biennial Dilmah Tea global distributor conference in Colombo, Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera outlined the way forward for the Sri Lankan tea industry.

Emphatically rebutting arguments made by the Tea Industry Association (TEA) that the Government should allow the importation of cheap low-quality teas for blending with Sri Lankan tea, Dr. Jayasundera exclaimed that "Sri Lanka should not permit our product to be used in that manner."

Dr. Jayasundera explained the Government's position, "One product we should uncompromisingly preserve and protect is Sri Lankan tea. Dilmah has shown that all facets can be developed locally. We believe Sri Lanka has a tremendous comparative advantage in tea and can make it a three billion dollar industry in the next 10 years."

Echoing these sentiments, key stakeholders of the tea industry, which directly supports over 2.5 million Sri Lankans, warned against the TEA's attempts to destroy the world-renowned 'Pure Ceylon Tea' brand by lobbying for the adulteration of this premium beverage.

The TEA, which is behind the effort to import cheap low-quality teas for blending and re-exporting from Sri Lanka, comprises tea exporters and does not represent thousands of growers and workers who help sustain one of the country's most important industries.

For the past few years, the TEA has attempted to argue that the relatively high cost of Ceylon tea prevents local players from competing with international brands.

The success of Dilmah, a truly global 'Pure Ceylon Tea' brand, and other Sri Lankan-owned brands, stands in stark contrast to this claim.Refuting the TEA's attempt to draw a comparison between the tea and apparel industry, which allows the duty-free import of raw material, Dr. Jayasundera made it clear that the two industries are markedly different, noting that "tea is the opposite [of the apparel industry]. Everything is here".

 

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