South Africa will consider positively, a request to relax tea tariffs to render relief to Sri Lanka in the spirit of supporting developing countries to become sustainable as they can be, the outgoing South African High Commissioner in Colombo, Robina P. Marks said.
The lowering of tariffs for the export of‘ ceylon Tea’ to South Africa could be extended for three years, she added
Addressing a seminar titled ‘Sri Lanka –South Africa Business Promotion Meeting’ at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI), Mrs. marks said South Africa had been able to expand its trade footprint in Sri Lanka and that overall trade was in favour of her country.
“South Africa is Sri Lanka’s largest source of imports and the second largest export destination in the African region. imports from South Africa largely consist of coal and Sri Lankan exports comprise of bulk tea, apparel, and rubber products, ”mrs. Marks stressed.
Commenting further on bilateral trade ties in the COVID-19 era, the High Commissioner underscored the need to recalibrate its trade strategy in Sri Lanka and the desire for a more
balanced trade relationship between the two countries.
“Even though national interest is important to all countries, we do want a more balanced trade between Sri Lanka and South Africa.we think that its important because we both need to work on the basis that each have something to offer in this bilateral relationship,” she added.
Addressing concerns over market access for Sri Lankan tea, the High Commissioner said “We would consider, a request to lower the tariff for a period of time not exceeding three years, to grant some relief to Sri Lanka in the spirit of supporting developing countries, become sustainable as they can be.”
In terms of investment, High Commissioner Marks said that international retail brand, SPAR, has been established through a joint venture between SPAR Group Ltd. South Africa and Ceylon Biscuits Limited and have opened four outlets in Sri Lanka with plans to expand up to 20 retail stores.
During the meeting, High Commissioner Marks also exchanged views with representatives of the Sri Lankan businesses community on the possibility of boosting fish exports to South Africa, value addition and knowledge sharing in the gem and jewelry industry, opportunities in the renewable energy sector and sharing expertise in food preservation in the canning industry. (SANDUN A JAYASEKERA)