Sri Lanka has the greatest economic potential in the South and Central Asian Region, said Assistant US Trade Representative Michael Delaney.
He made these observations at the Business forum on Ceylon Tea – Sri Lanka’s Gift to the World at the Washington Hilton recently. The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington DC in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tea Board organized the well attended Business forum on Ceylon Tea.
“Of all the countries of my areas of responsibility, I have long felt that Sri Lanka ranks in the very top tier for economic potential due to its combinations of natural endowments and its human capital”, he said.
“There has been a transformative development with regard to Sri Lanka that regards a fresh look at the country and its possibilities. Sri Lanka is now well positioned to build on its traditional strengths, and tea is certainly one of them, and to accelerate its trade and relations with the rest of the world”, he added.
He underscored that US as the single largest export market to Sri Lanka has accomplished much in trade relations but averred that the two countries can accomplish much more given that the world has a very different Sri Lanka that what it was before 3 years ago.
Mr. Joe Simrany, President of the US Tea Council explained that Sri Lankan tea as well as US tea industry has been under appreciated despite the steady growth in the beverage sector.
“That’s good news… it shows what the potential is that we have”, he added. As the consumers become increasingly aware about the many health benefits of tea, such as its ability to prevent chronic diseases, Mr. Simrany expressed his confidence that tea will be ranked among the most popular beverages in the US market.
Mr. John Cullicot, President of Walters Bay, an award winning US tea company made an inspirational and informative presentation revealing factors behind the company’s success with 100 % Pure Ceylon Tea. He said, Walters Bay utilize 100% pure Ceylon tea for its products coupled with innovative technological advancements.
“Sri Lanka’s unique post-conflict scenario offers great opportunities for U.S companies and investors,” said Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the USA.
“I highly encourage US businesses to visit Sri Lanka and invite to engage more business partnerships with my country”, he said.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya expressed his confidence that the presence of pure Ceylon teas in the US market will continue to grow and expand with increased awareness of this unique product.
“I assure once they taste this tea they will keep coming back to your stores looking for 100% pure Ceylon tea”, he added.
Also, Ambassador Wickramasuriya urged members of the Sri Lanka tea industry to pay more attention to the US market.
“I am glad that you have taken the US as a serious market. Please spend your time and allocate more resources to sell Ceylon tea in the USA. I am sure you will be successful”, he said.
In conclusion, the Sri Lankan Envoy gave an assurance that the Embassy will continue to assist tea traders and explore further opportunities through enhanced cooperation with the US Tea Industry.
The Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Ms. Janki Kuruppu in her remarks drew attention on the gaps between tea trades in the two countries. She highlighted the fact that Sri Lanka currently has only 3% share in the US tea market despite the country being the 3rd largest tea exporter in the world and the U.S. being the 2nd largest importer of tea. She said that the two countries are yet to identify the each other’s potential as partners to tea industry.
Mr. Hasitha de Alwis, Director of the Sri Lanka Tea Board (Tea Promotion Division) made a comprehensive overview of Sri Lanka tea industry.
Mr. Bandula Somasiri, Minister (Commercial) of the Embassy expressed his gratitude to all the participants for their active engagements in the proceeding of the tea seminar.
The programme concluded by the invites savouring pure Ceylon Tea originating from the seven agro climatic Zones namely Dimbula, Nuwara Eliya, Uda Pussellawa, Sabaragmuwa, UVA m Kandy and Ruhuna.