China FTA to benefit struggling plantations

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By 2017-08-13

By Nishel Fernando

Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake said, the country's struggling tea, rubber and coconut sectors would get a lifeline from the upcoming Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China which is to be signed within next three-four months.
The minister made these remarks last Friday, while delivering the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of CRT Trade Fair 2017.

Dissanayake assured that Sri Lankan exporters would be able to export tea, rubber and coconut products at a concessionary tax rate to China once the FTA is enforced. However, he asserted that exporters should focus on high value additions, rather than raw products, pointing out the high demand for value-added tea, rubber and coconut products in the Chinese market.

"The plantation sectors had undergone various changes over last 20 years. Though there's a high demand for tea, rubber and coconut products in the global market, dynamics of the demand have evolved. For example, the demand for raw tea is decreasing, while the demand for value-added tea products is growing. This scenario is evident in new markets such as China where there's a high demand for value-added tea, rubber and coconut products," Dissanayake said.

He said in order to boost value added products, the government needs to relax certain regulations, even lift certain barriers to some imports essential to value-additions. He pointed out that allowing rubber imports in......late 1970s was a wise decision as it helped the rubber industry to adopt new technologies which increased the quality and quantity of local rubber production. He further said, the value-added rubber products have helped the rubber industry to survive from the shortage of rubber production.
According to a joint feasibility study on the impact of trade liberalization between China and Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka's tea, rubber and coconuts exports to China could be boosted by 56 per cent, 120 per cent and 30 per cent respectively through the upcoming FTA with China.



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