Dec 20, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has decided to temporarily suspend a ban that was to be imposed from 1st January on the use of asbestos roofing materials imported from Russia.
The decision to suspend the ban was taken at the cabinet meeting headed by President Maithripala Sirisena held Tuesday at the Presidential Secretariat.
The government has initially decided to ban the imports of raw materials, Russian chrysotile from the first of January and completely ban the asbestos from 2020.
Reports have been circulated in the political circle that the Russian government imposed a ban on Sri Lankan tea as a tit-for-tat action over Sri Lanka's planned ban of asbestos. Russia is a leading provider of raw materials for asbestos.
The Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance has decided to impose restrictions on imports of all agricultural products from Sri Lanka, including tea, from Dec. 18 after one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka contained an invasive insect, known as the Khapra beetle.
Following the announcement, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said he will make a special request to the Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider temporarily suspending the ban on Sri Lanka's tea imports.
Tea consists of nearly 80 percent of Lankan exports to Russia and Sri Lanka exported US$ 143 million worth of teas to Russia last year.