Tea industry adjusts to online auction | Daily News


Tea industry adjusts to online auction

The Colombo Tea Auction (CTA) existed as an open-cry trading floor for 126 years, until coronavirus shut it down. The auction, which is the oldest operational and largest single-origin tea auction in the world, successfully transitioned.

“The idea to digitize the auction has been on the table for a long time. But the pandemic put us in a situation where we just had to get it done,” said Jayantha Karunarathne, Chairman of the Colombo Tea Traders Association (CTTA). The first digital auction was conducted in April. “Everyone is now used to the online system,” said, Karunarathne, adding, “I don’t think we will ever go back to holding the auction the old way.”

Auction prices have stabilized, and the focus has returned to strategic planning. Parliamentary elections August 5 gave the ruling party a two-thirds majority.

The election has helped settle nine months of uncertainty calmed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who described his vision for the country in a major address last week.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina B. Teplitz, praised the country for its efforts to control the pandemic without sending the economy into recession. Ambassador Teplitz commented that the US is the number one destination for Sri Lankan exports.

Bilateral trade is heavily weighted in Sri Lanka’s favour: The United States imports around $2.9 billion worth of Sri Lankan products, mainly garments. Sri Lanka imports around $390 million in US goods. The new government will emphasize exports, according to press accounts.

The island nation’s total exports declined to $277 million in April but increased to $906 million in June. In July, revenue from tea exports rose to Rs 24.3 billion ($130 million), an increase of Rs 4.8 billion ($26 million) compared to June.

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