Colombo, December 25 (newsin.asia): Russia has decided to lift the ban imposed on tea imports from Sri Lanka with effect from December 30 following discussions with Sri Lankan representatives, the Sri Lankan Minister of Plantations, Navin Dissanayake said here on Monday.
Russia had imposed the ban after a insect known as Khapra beetle was found in a container carrying Sri Lankan tea. However, Sri Lankan sources maintained that the ban was due to Sri Lanka’s ban against the import of asbestos sheets which affected Russia. Sure enough when the Sri Lankan government rescinded the ban on asbestos last week, the Russian authorities softened and lifted their own ban on Sri Lankan tea.
Expressing happiness at the development, Sri Lankan President Maihripala Sirisena tweeted: “Sri Lanka’s diplomacy with Russia has always been exemplary. The way the tea exports issue is yet another example of this friendship. Prompt action by government has paid off. This is also a time to thank Russia for cordiality.”
A delegation from Sri Lanka, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board, left for Russia last week for discussion on lifting the ban.
A meeting was held on Tuesday (December 25) between officials from both countries at the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow.
Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog also confirmed that it will resume imports of tea from Sri Lanka.
The imports will resume on Dec. 30, the RIA news agency cited its head Sergey Dankvert as saying on Monday.
Russia had placed temporary restrictions on imports of tea and all other agricultural products from Sri Lanka from Dec. 18 after a beetle was found a tea consignment.
Russia’s agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said the insect, known as the Khapra beetle, was discovered in the packaging of a consignment of tea from Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan authorities had said it was an isolated case and that it would work with the Russian authorities to resolve the issue.
Plantation Minister Navin Dissanayake and Industry Minister Rishad Bathiudeen were leading the special delegation to Moscow to reassure the Russian government.
Sri Lankan tea accounts for 23 percent of the Russian market, with other supplies coming from India, Kenya, China and Vietnam. Sri Lankan tea accounts for nearly a quarter of its $436m (£326m) market.
Sri Lanka had insisted that a thorough investigation will be carried out and that punitive measures will be taken against anyone found guilty of tampering with its consignment.