The state-run Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) has taken a number of initiatives in collaboration with the country’s private sector to promote Ceylon tea in export markets in the present difficult times.
The Sri Lankan tea industry is currently undergoing trying times amid relatively higher production costs, lower international prices and geopolitical issues in a couple of its key export markets.
The SLTB in a statement said, in the backdrop of these challenges, it has fast-tracked several projects that have been in the pipeline for some time in close consultation with the Tea Traders’ Association.
“The global tea promotion campaign is set to take off with two agencies having been selected. The contract has already been signed with one and the Sri Lanka Tea Board is in the process of finalizing the other contract.”
“Twenty five target markets have been identified for promotion of Ceylon tea under this global campaign,” the statement said.
However, having considered the prevailing ground conditions in key overseas markets, it has been decided to focus on 12 markets in the first phase in two tiers during 2015/2016 and the rest during the second phase of the campaign.
The countries identified under the first tier of the first phase are: Russia, the UAE, USA, Japan, China, Germany, Iran and those identified under the second tier are: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Australia and India.
“In the case of Iran and Turkey, it has been decided to evaluate the ground realities in Iran based on the effects of US sanctions and the progress made in signing an MoU with Turkey before starting the campaign.”
Simultaneously, a brand promotion scheme was initiated last month to introduce a matching fund scheme for private sector brands utilizing the moneys in the tea cess fund, where the SLTB will match the funds up to a maximum limit per brand. The exporting company can come up with its own campaign for its brands and apply for this matching fund grant under the conditions of the scheme. Selected applicants will be entitled to a maximum ceiling of Rs.50 million per brand per company during 2015/2016.
And also, after a lapse of several years, the SLTB has reintroduced a subsidy scheme to encourage private sector participation at international trade fairs in 2015 for both established and newer exporters.
More than 50 beneficiaries have already made use of the scheme so far utilizing the 50 percent subsidy on the cost of space and booth construction, the SLTB said.
Meanwhile, on the request of the SLTB, the government through the External Affairs Ministry has appealed to the USA government to help the Sri Lankan tea trade to overcome the problems faced in its exports to Iran, considering tea as an essential food item. “A favourable outcome is expected,” the Tea Board statement said. At the same time, the SLTB said wheels are being set in motion to celebrate 150 years legacy of Ceylon tea in 2017 with the support of the industry stakeholders. “Many large-scale tea industry-related events are being planned from February to August 2017 throughout the island which includes Ceylon Tea Expo, a tea convention, tea festivals, tea workshops and seminars. Sri Lanka tea industry has already initiated extending invitations to the international tea fraternity to join these celebrations including all tea associations, tea councils and tea boards. It is also expected that a large number of international tea buyers and distributors will also visit these events,” SLTB said.
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