The Export Division of the Sri Lanka Tea Board provides a multitude of important functions with the power vested upon the SLTB by the Tea (Tax and Control of Exports) Act no. 16 of 1959 and the regulations laid down under the Sri Lanka Tea Board law no. 14 of 1975.
Some of these functions include registration of tea exporters, tea packers, warehouses, importers, type of tea packs, retrieval of tea, monitoring of minimum quality standard for tea, authorization of export of tea, compilation of statistics on the export of tea and monitoring of export of tea under bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) of Sri Lanka.
Let’s have a look at some of these functions in detail.
G.M.P certification for Iran exports.
Iran is one of Sri Lanka’s main tea export markets and the Sri Lanka Tea Board started issuing this certification in 2016 to evaluate the standards of the ware houses tea consignments are prepared for export to Iran.
The certification is only issued after carefully assessing the process of blending, packing and warehouse storage practices as well as the final product evolutional standard of tea.
24/7 operations and joint investigation on the tea consignments at Sri Lanka Customs Exports Facilitation Center (EFC)
The Sri Lanka Tea Board has taken steps to gradually set-up a 24/7 operation in order to facilitate the submission of CUSDESs by tea exporters and to provide a faster response to their queries. As an initial step, operational times have been extended until 10.00 pm on weekdays.
A special investigating and trade facilitation unit operation was carried out at the EFC located at No. 478/3 C, K Cyril C. Perera Mawatha, Colombo 13 in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Customs. The main objective of this unit is conducting joint inspections on tea consignments being prepared for export without hindering customs border procedures as well as providing export cargo clearance in a more transparent manner to ensure the quality of tea.
One of the key duties of the Tea Export section is the registration and renewal of exporters, packers, warehouses and importers. Companies with a valid business registration, registered warehouse (for storing, blending and packing of tea), a qualified tea taster with a tea tasting facility and with a minimum capital (invested/ paid up) of at least Rs. 1.0 million are eligible to apply for registrations as a tea exporter.
In terms of the Sri Lanka tea board regulation (registration of tea packers) 1986, published in the extraordinary gazette no.386/13 of 28th January, 1986, it is essential for any person who engages in the business of packing tea for domestic consumption or in other forms of packaging to register with the Sri Lanka Tea Board. The registration is valid for one year and must be renewed annually.
Any entity registered as an exporter of tea under the Tea (Tax and Control of Exports) Act no. 16 of 1959 is eligible to register as an importer of tea.
In terms of the Sri Lanka Tea Board Regulations (Warehousing of Tea) no. 410/11 of 10th September 1984, 1986 no. 1280/8 of 20th March, 2003, a warehouse used for the storage of any quantity of tea in excess of 1000 Kgs of tea at any one time, and which the Sri Lanka Tea Board considers satisfactory for the purpose of storing tea, shall be registered with the Sri Lanka Tea Board in accordance with the provisions of the said regulations.
Retail containers which contain origin specialty tea blended with Sri Lanka teas could be exported under the Sri Lanka Tea Board regulations (Import and Export) of 1981. Such containers/packs should bare the narration “A blend of Ceylon and other origin teas packed in Sri Lanka” or “Other origin teas packed in Sri Lanka” only, and all containers shall be registered with the Sri Lanka Tea Board.
All registered tea exporters are required to submit CUSDESs along with the other required documents to the Tea Exports section through the ASYCUDA system in order to obtain the authorization for export. A team of SLTB officers inspect the tea consignment/s’ that are ready to be exported in order to ascertain whether the tea in concern is in line with required standards for export.
Maintenance of the minimum ISO 3720 Quality Standard
An expert panel of Tea Tasters appointed by the Sri Lanka Tea Board examines all offered tea samples and samples drawn from tea factories, the unloaded consignments after import, and the consignments prepared for export in order to ascertain whether the made tea in concern falls under the permitted categories, conforms to the ISO 3720 standards and free of any contamination, thereby permitting only the suitable made tea for export.
Importing of Tea
The Sri Lanka Tea Board has issued 510 import permits for importation of 4,576,048.32 Kgs of tea. However, the actual quantity of import was 4,660,293 Kgs during the period under review.
Denaturing of Tea that’s unsuitable for human consumption
Made tea found to be unsuitable for human consumption at the point of pre-shipment is denatured under the supervision of the export section.
Retrieval of Tea
If a consignment of tea is not accepted by the overseas buyer, the local exporter must retrieve it with the approval of the Sri Lanka Tea Board. The consignment is re-inspected by the SLTB prior to granting the authorization for export/re-use.