Kenya tea prices rise even while Egyptian buyers absent

NAIROBI, July 9 Tue Jul 9, 2013 1:05pm EDT

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NAIROBI, July 9 (Reuters) - The average price of Kenya's top-grade tea rose at the weekly auction on Tuesday, even though buyers from Egypt, the biggest buyer of Kenyan tea, were absent because of its civil unrest.

Tea is a major foreign exchange earner for Kenya, the world's leading exporter of black tea, at 112 billion shillings ($1.3 billion) last year.

Analysts have said prolonged unrest in Egypt could hurt Kenya's currency.

Tea Board of Kenya has said it expects tea earnings to rise to 120 billion shillings ($1.4 billion) this year , but it made this estimate prior to the eruption of unrest in Egypt following the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi last week.

Kenya's tea exports to Egypt had fallen after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

A trader at the Africa Tea Brokers (ATB) said Egyptian buyers had stayed out and that it was not clear when they would return.

"It would have been difficult for Egypt to take part. We didn't expect anything positive from their buyers, and they were not buying because of the upheavals in that country," the trader said.

Nevertheless, tea prices rose on strong demand from Kazakhstan, while Sudan, Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries had more modest buys, and Britain was selective, ATB said in a statement.

Broken Pekoe Ones tea rose slightly to $3.43 per kg from $3.30 per kg at last week's auction.

Best Broken Pekoe Ones (BP1) TEABP1-BEST-KE sold at $3.08-$3.78 per kg from $3.04-$3.55 per kg last week.

Best Pekoe Fanning Ones (PF1) TEAPF1-BEST-KE fetched $2.52-$3.04 per kg, compared with $2.54-$3.26 per kg last week.

ATB said 135,028 packages were offered for sale, with 28.12 percent left unsold. Last week, 137,369 packages were on sale, with 17.47 percent left unsold. (Reporting by James Macharia; editing by Jane Baird)

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