According to Pethiyagoda, this statement has created a crisis in the tea industry.
Speaking at an election rally in the plantation areas two days ago, the president said the measure would be intended at promoting the local product.
However, the Tea Board chief said he doubted if the president had actually made such a remark, saying such a decision should be taken in consultation with all stakeholders, and a cabinet approval obtained.
He went onto say that such one-sided decisions had been taken recently, including the ban of glyphosates, as a result of which, estate farmers were now using illegal toxic chemicals on tea.
Pethiyagoda said the exporters were asking as to what would happen to the tea consignments made ready for re-exportation, if it was totally halted.
According to him, there were many who import from Assam in India and blend it with the local product for re-exportation.
He added that he would request, through the subject minister, to reconsider if such a decision had been taken.