Lifting of asbestos ban linked to Russia’s tea import ban?

Lifting of asbestos ban linked to Russia’s tea import ban?

December 20, 2017   06:37 pm

Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake says that according to unofficial sources there is a connection between Russia’s temporary restrictions on imports of tea from Sri Lanka and the lifting of the ban on the use of asbestos which was to come into effect from January 1. 

Russia has suspended Sri Lankan tea imports from December 18 when they found a larva of a khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) in a container of Sri Lankan tea. 

As about 11% of Sri Lankan tea exports are to Russia this is a considerable matter and Minister Navin Dissanayake said it is confusing to find such a beetle as they are very rare in Sri Lanka.

Accordingly, he added that he will visit Russia very shortly when a date for negotiation is given by the Government of Russia with a group including Chairman of Sri Lanka Tea Board, Director General of Agriculture, Officers of National Plant Quarantine Service and Specialists of Sri Lanka Tea Board and Tea Research Institute. 

Cabinet also approved to make necessary other responses suitable for lifting this ban, he said, speaking during the weekly cabinet press briefing in Colombo today (20).

The Government had taken a policy decision to limit import of raw material required to manufacture asbestos on September 06, 2016 which is to be implemented with effect from January 01, 2018. 

The Government said it had paid attention on various clarifications made by the construction field and specialists.

Few members of the cabinet pointed out the difficulties faced by house constructers with this limitation as 80% of imports are done for manufacturing roofing material. There was a long discussion on difficulty of providing substitute products to the market within a limited time.

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 January 01, 2018, he said. 

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