Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a debt and foreign exchange crisis.
The matter has been made worse due to the country being reliant on tourism income, which has stagnated since the beginning of the pandemic.
At this point in time, they have accrued an oil debt to Iran of approximately $251,000,000 and have voiced plans to repay this debt with tea.
A member of the country’s tea board mentioned that this is the first time they have used tea to settle foreign debts.
Plantations Minister Ramesh Pathirana told Ruters the following:
“We hope to send $5m worth of tea each month to repay Iran for oil purchases pending since the last four years,” – Ranesh Pathirana told Rueters.
The Plantation Ministry offered further statements:
“The recommended scheme will save Sri Lanka much-needed foreign currency since the settlement to Iran would be made in Sri Lankan rupees through the sale of Ceylon Tea.” – The Plantation Ministry
However, a spokesman for the Planters’ Association of Ceylon said that the concept was a “plaster solution by the government”.
It’s worth noting that roughly 5% of Sri Lankan citizens work in the tea industry, as it is one of their major export crops.