Unites States Secretary of State, John Kerry had indicated that Sri Lanka’s tea trade, which was affected by US sanctions on Iran, would be normalised within few weeks, a minister said yesterday.
Sri Lanka was unable to export tea directly to Iran because of the US sanctions and therefore the government has been compelled to subsidize the prices.
However, government leaders including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Planation Minister Lakshman Kiriella raised this matter when they met Mr. Kerry during his visit to Sri Lanka.
He is reported to have said his country was at a delicate stage in the negotiations with Iran on sanctions and requested the Sri Lankan leaders to wait for a few more weeks for any results.
Mr. Kiriella told Daily Mirror that Sri Lankan exporters were unable to open Letters of Credit for their tea exports to Iran because of the sanctions.
“Currently, tea exports to Iran are carried out through third parties. This results in high prices in that market and as such the exporters are at a disadvantage,” he said.
He said 70 per cent of the tea was produced by small holders in Sri Lanka.
During the pre-sanction days Sri Lanka exported nearly Rs.200 million worth of tea ti Iran annually.