May 19, 2014, 6:51 pm
By Steve A. Morrell
Recently High Commissioner for Pakistan in Sri Lanka, General Qasim Qureshi, at a press conference convened by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka, answering questions from the press conceded that Pakistan was not a major buyer of Ceylon Tea. He further said this would be corrected in the short run to increase tea purchases from Sri Lanka.
He also made the point that Ceylon Tea was not affordable by the Pakistan end user, but the existing trade deficit corresponding to Ceylon Tea imports would be narrowed.
Despite his assurance that Lankan tea imports to his country would increase, the Asia Siyaka weekly tea market report dated May 12 indicated that there were no tea exports to Pakistan from Lanka, January to March, this year.
Although the report further said Pakistan’s tea imports indicated a sharp fall of some 22.25 %, quoting ‘The Business Recorder’, the Sri Lankan tea context did not witness any indicators that Pakistan would enter the market to record its presence.
Kenya continues to be Pakistan’s major supplier of tea registering an increase of 60 . 95 %, compared to the same period last year which recorded a 60 . 41 % increase.
Additionally, India, Rwanda, Indonesia and China, account for about 80 % tea imports to Pakistan.
Considering details as recorded in the Asia Siyaka report, the question is, would the Pakistan High Commission honour its commitment to purchase Ceylon Tea. Government to government bilateral trade has been currently established at the highest level. At that identified press conference Pakistan was apprehensive of importing Sri Lankan products, subject to quality consistency and standards. They were assured by the press that, that question did not come into the equation because Ceylon Tea was a world class product. The High Commissioner said this was correct.
Meanwhile, the John Keels PLC, weekly tea market report said there was excellent demand at last week’s auction. Iran, Syria, and Turkey, accounted for the bulk of demand. Additionally,Dubai Jordon and other Middle Eastern countries too lent useful support.
Todate averages recorded were that Ceylon Tea is currently on an ascendant spiral. Brokers were optimistic this trend would continue.
However, there was no comment that these prices would translate to a healthy bottom line in the formal tea sector.
The tea smallholders and the tea factory owners were at profitable levels.
First quarter sales average at Rs. 475.41 was higher than that during the same period last year. 2013 average first quarter was Rs. 424. 05.
The report further said low grown leafy special grades sold at prices in excess of Rs. 3000 per kilo.