Sri Lanka’s tea exporters last week said the expected ceasefire in Syria from today (27) has brought a new ray of hope as unrest in Middle Eastern countries in recent years had hampered tea exports. While Syria is by far one of the biggest markets for Sri Lanka’s export of tea in packets, the expected cessation of hostilities is now likely to be largely beneficial for Sri Lanka’s exports to Turkey, another key destination, analysts pointed out.
“The cessation of hostilities is likely to positively impact on our exports not just to Syria but Turkey in particular since most of the teas exported to Turkey, our second biggest export destination after Russia, go through Syria,” Executive Director at Ceylon Tea Brokers Plc, Waruna de Silva told Nation in an interview last week.

He explained that though most of the freight currently goes to Turkey, 100% of them don’t go into Turkey but through the Port of Mersin where they will then make their way to countries like Syria, Turkey, Iran etc.

“So if there is a ceasefire, goods will go through to those countries and there will be increased business activity not to Syria per se but other countries too because they trade a lot with those countries,” de Silva said.

While Sri Lanka’s top five export markets according to last year’s statistics are Russia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Dubai, exports to Turkey had diminished during the last few years due to turmoil the Middle Eastern region.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday the Syrian government had consented to observe a cessation of hostilities as agreed upon by the U.S. and Russia. The ministry said the military campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front will continue in accordance to the U.S.-Russian agreement.