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RUSSIA LIFTS TEA BAN

Russia has decided to lift the temporary import restrictions placed on Sri Lankan Tea with effect from December 30, Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake told the Daily News yesterday.

Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance had taken the decision to impose temporary restrictions from December 18 after it found an insect, in the packaging of one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka. Minister Dissanayake said that Russian authorities had decided to lift the ban following discussions with a Sri Lankan delegation in Moscow yesterday.

Following the restrictions on tea imports by Russia, President Maithripala Sirisena speaking at a public event said, he would make an official request from Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw the temporary restrictions.

The President on that occasion went on to say that already an investigation has been initiated against the company which had exported the consignment of tea from Sri Lanka in which the insect had been detected and added that its export license will be revoked if found guilty.

Following the ban the Sri Lanka Tea Board in a statement said it believed the present case was an isolated incident that is, in any case, not a reflection on the quality of Ceylon Tea.

The Tea Board went on to say that the beetle is a pest of grain crops such as rice, and has never been associated with tea.

The Daily News learns that Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Moscow Dr. Saman Weerasinghe and officials from the Ministry of Plantation Industries and the Sri Lanka Tea Board were involved in talks with Russian authorities constantly.

The Minister said the Russian authorities had set several conditions to be met by the Sri Lankan tea exporters, including maintaining the cleanliness of the containers used for tea exports. Dissanayake said these criteria were not difficult ones and the Sri Lankan delegation had agreed to meet them.