South Africa is ready to consider lowering tea tariffs for a period of time, and not extending three years.
Addressing concerns over market access for Sri Lankan tea, outgoing South African High Commissioner in Colombo, Robina P. Marks said South Africa will consider the possibility of lowering tea tariffs to give some relief to Sri Lanka.
The Foreign Ministry said Marks stated the measure will be taken in the spirit of supporting developing countries become sustainable as they can be.
She further underscored the need to recalibrate its trade strategy in Sri Lanka and the desire for a more balanced trade relationship between the two countries.
“Even though national interest is important to all countries, we do want a more balanced trade between Sri Lanka and South Africa. We think that its important because we both need to work on the basis that each have something to offer in this bilateral relationship,” she added, commenting on bilateral trade ties in the COVID-19 era.
The Foreign Ministry said South Africa has been able to expand its trade footprint in Sri Lanka and that overall trade stood hugely in favour of her country. South Africa is Sri Lanka’s largest source of imports and the second largest export destination in the African region. Imports from South Africa largely consists of coal and Sri Lankan exports comprise of bulk tea, apparel, and rubber products.
In terms of investment, High Commissioner Marks said that international retail brand, SPAR, through a joint venture between SPAR Group Ltd South Africa and Ceylon Biscuits Limited has opened four outlets in Sri Lanka with plans to expand up to 20 retail stores.
High Commissioner Marks also exchanged views with representatives of the Sri Lankan businesses community on the possibility of boosting fish exports to South Africa, value addition and knowledge sharing in the gem and jewelry industry, opportunities in the renewable energy sector and sharing expertise in food preservation in the canning industry. (Colombo Gazette)