While the TEA, by their own admission, represents only 83 % of the Tea Exporters, the PA is aware that their membership is not unanimous in the decision to import teas with several leading member exporters being opposed to this proposal while several others are not convinced that this is the way forward.
Meanwhile, the entire grower segment, represented by the Federation of Tea Small Holder Societies which comprises over 400,000 small holdings and producing 70% of the national tea crop while the membership of the PA which accounts for the balance 30%, is totally opposed to the importation of Orthodox Black Tea.
The PA is convinced that such a move will tarnish the long established and internationally acclaimed image of Ceylon Tea and it will preclude the use of titles and certifications,
"The TEA’s proposal of importing orthodox tea for value addition is, to our mind, paradoxical as the imported tea will, of necessity, be of a lower quality and hence any value enhancement would be to the benefit of the imported tea rather than the tea produced locally."
Furthermore, the imported tea will come at a cost and it would be interesting to ascertain the net increase in export earnings and what quantum of tea would have to be imported to reach the "magical US $ 5 billion target by 2020".
On the contrary, if Sri Lanka is to preserve its Pure Ceylon Tea image, as well as enhance export earnings towards achieving this target, it would be appropriate for the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the long term sustainability of the Industry by supporting capital development activities such as re-planting and factory upgrading and simultaneously assisting to establish more Sri Lankan owned brands while securing new markets with the additional recovery of Rs.3.50 per kilo specifically for marketing and promotional activities.