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Asbestos ban may affect Russia trade ties

Comments / 340 Views / Thursday, 29 June 2017 00:07


A new report detailing the potential socioeconomic impact of a looming ban on the production and use of asbestos states that, apart from large-scale direct economic costs, it could also affect Sri Lanka’s trade ties with Russia. 

Sri Lanka’s combined trade with Russia at the moment is valued in the region of $ 400 million annually, with the balance of trade in Sri Lanka’s favour. Sri Lanka’s tea industry at present contributes over $ 1.5 billion to the economy, with Sri Lanka’s top 10 exports to Russia all tea.

“The Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka has already publicly voiced concerns on the government proposals to ban chrysotile, whilst the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board has also stated…that the potential fall-out for the domestic tea industry could be significant,” states the report.

For Russia, being one of the major exporters of asbestos in the world, an all-out ban by Sri Lanka would be extremely unwelcome. This was made clear in a letter to Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen dated December 2016, where the Russian Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov makes reference to how the Chrysotile industry is “an important part of the sustainable development of the Russian economy.”

The Russian Trade Minister goes on to “express concern” over Sri Lanka’s proposed ban on asbestos imports, before requesting “inter-departmental consultations” to discuss the matter further.

“To avoid any negative impact on the bilateral trade between our countries…I would like to ask you to examine the possibility of organising inter-departmental consultations during the 1st quarter of 2017 to discuss the supply of chrysotile to Sri Lanka and its use in the industry,” states the letter.

Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alexander Karchava speaking to Daily FT revealed that the meeting detailed in the letter is yet to take place but that he is hopeful of it being organised in the near future in Moscow.

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