December 5, 2023

Sri Lankan tea exports to UAE record good growth

2 min read

(Gulf News) : The Ceylon Tea Bureau has had an office in Dubai for more than 20 years to ensure that the trade of Sri Lankan tea continues to grow in the region.

In recent years, the bureau has experienced a boost in the amount of tea making its way from the shores of Sri Lanka to the UAE.

According to tea export figures from the bureau, the UAE was ranked second on its list for 2000.

Leading the list was Russia with a total of more than 45 million kilograms, following was the UAE with more than 39 million kilograms, and then there was Syria, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Srimathie Weerasuriya, commissioner, Ceylon Tea Bureau, said at the moment the tea market is strong.

“This market (the Middle East) is number two for Sri Lanka after the CIS,” she explained. But most of the tea that comes into the UAE from Sri Lanka ends up being re-exported, she explained.

“Tea comes here mainly for re-exports and we cannot say how much stays here but we can say that about 80 per cent of what comes here goes to Iran, Pakistan and the CIS.”

According to Weerasuriya, the growth of the Sri Lankan tea exports to the UAE can be attributed to a dip in the Emirates’ reliance on Indian tea.

“They (the UAE) used to import from India but at some stage they could not import much because their (India’s) local consumption went up, and during that period the UAE turned to Sri Lanka.

“Since that time and the exports have been going up – so far the market is strong – so far, so good!”

Pleased with the progress of Sri Lankan tea in the region, she said that other stable markets included Syria, Jordan and Tunisia.

“I would say that more than 50 per cent of our total exports come to this region because Ceylon tea has always been popular here.”

Russia and the CIS might be taking most of Sri Lanka’s tea but that has not stopped it from reaching all corners of the world. Emerging markets include Poland, Australia, Japan, U.S., and even on a smaller scale Singapore and Thailand. “Sri Lanka exports tea to more than 100 countries around the world.”

The bureau has been established in Dubai for 25 years, and the only other office is in Russia. Both offices have been responsible for the increased awareness worldwide of Ceylon tea.

“In the past ten years, since 1991, our production of tea has increased very much,” she said. “And so have our exports. Presently about 90 per cent of our tea is auctioned and the average price has also gone up.”

Weerasuriya stressed the importance of tea to Sri Lanka’s economy. “In Sri Lanka, tea is the leading foreign exchange revenue earner in the agricultural sector. “It makes up 17 per cent of the total export products.”

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