The government will be allowing the tea industry to set up a tea hub for the importation and blending of tea in Sri Lanka, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said. “With the aim of developing Sri Lanka as a tea hub, I propose to liberalize the tea imports to the country within a regulatory framework, with a view to encouraging value-addition through blending, etc.,” he said.
However, he noted that strict labelling requirements with the brand name “Ceylon Tea” will be mandatory.
Labelling the blended tea as Ceylon Tea would lead to the taste and reputation of Sri Lanka diminishing current Ceylon tea, experts said. Karunanayake said that the new regime is allowing the tea hub since Sri Lanka has lost ground in value-addition to tea centres such as Dubai, and the private sector made strong representations to liberalize imports.
The past regime had not allowed the tea industry to venture into this area due to the influence from a leading company. (CW)