Sri Lanka hopes to resolve asbestos and tea issue with Russia

Sri Lanka hopes to resolve the issue over the import of asbestos from Russia and the export of tea to Russia, the Government said today.

Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake said that the Government suspects there is a link between the decision taken by Sri Lanka to ban asbestos from 2018 and the restrictions on tea imports from Sri Lanka by Russia.

Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka imports a type of asbestos from Russia and the ban on asbestos will affect the imports.

In order to ensure Sri Lanka’s tea industry does not take a hit the Government hopes to pacify Russia by suspending the ban on asbestos.

Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor had last week decided to restrict tea imports from Sri Lanka and all other agricultural products after a beetle was found in a tea consignment

Dissanayake asserted that while environment issues must be looked into there must also be a balance to ensure Sri Lanka does not suffer as a result of decisions taken related to the environment.

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that Russia has assured there is no impact to the environment from the asbestos manufactured in Russia.

The Government had earlier taken a policy decision to limit the import of raw material required to manufacture asbestos which was to be implemented with effect from 01-01-2018.

However the Government said that it was pointed out at cabinet the difficulties faced by contractors as 80% of imports are for manufacturing roofing material.

Accordingly, the cabinet has decided to suspend its decision to ban production, use and importation of material to manufacture asbestos in Sri Lanka with effect from 01-01-2018. (Colombo Gazette)

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