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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 18:01 GMT
Sri Lanka tops tea sales
Tea plantation near Kandy
Droughts have cut production in Sri Lanka
When the world stops for a cup of tea, chances are it will be Sri Lankan.

Sri Lanka has retained its position as the world's top tea exporter by selling a record 294 million kilograms last year, tea broking firms John Keells and Forbes & Walker said.

Earnings from tea exports rose to an all-time high of $658m from $595m the previous year, said Keells, which is good news for the recession bound economy.

Exports grew by a modest 2.1%, but still left it well ahead of its main competitor, Kenya, which exported about 217 million kg.

The main buyers of Sri Lankan tea are the former Soviet bloc countries and the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Britain, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

Prices fall

Sri Lanka's success comes despite falling tea prices in every major tea exporting country, following higher global output in 2001.

World tea production in 2001 rose 3.7% to 3.022 million tonnes, according to data from German analysts FO Licht which was released last week.

Production in Sri Lanka declined by about 3% to 295 million kg, from a record tea crop in 2000, due to a drought in the country, said Keells.

See also:

31 Dec 01 | South Asia
Sri Lanka economy 'in recession'
25 Jul 01 | Business
Sri Lanka's economy reels after raid
19 Dec 01 | Business
Falling demand hits Indian tea
29 Jan 02 | Business
Bangladesh tea exports fall
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