KARACHI: The cement industry posted 1.4% growth in the first seven months of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of previous year with increase in both domestic sales and exports.
Total cement dispatches during this period stood at 18.848 million tons against 18.596 million tons in the corresponding period of last fiscal year.
In January, local sales recorded a growth of 1.9% while exports increased 7.6%, resulting in an overall growth of 3.1% compared to the same month of last year.
Local sales in the southern region were 388,000 tons in January compared to average sales of 343,000 tons per month in the first six months of the current fiscal year.
Sales in the northern zone during January were 1.775 million tons against average sales of 1.653 million tons during July to December 2013.
Data compiled by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association (APCMA) showed that total sales of cement were 2.727 million tons in January compared to 2.646 million tons in the corresponding month a year ago.
Domestic sales increased to 2.163 million tons from 2.122 million tons while exports rose to 563,000 tons from 523,000 tons, mainly contributed by shipments via sea as exports via land route to Afghanistan and India actually dropped.
Domestic cement dispatches in December 2013 hit 2.33 million tons – the highest-ever monthly sales− compared to 2.24 million tons in the same month of 2012, up 3.8%.
“In January, we have recorded the lowest figure for exports to Afghanistan over the last seven months,” said the spokesperson for APCMA in a press release.
Exports to Afghanistan dropped to 202,000 tons in January against 314,000 tons in December 2013 and 287,000 tons in November.
Sales to Afghanistan are declining due to slow pace of new projects and also because of expected pullout of Nato forces, triggering uncertainty.
“We can easily export 3-5 million tons to India provided our concerns are properly and timely addressed,” said the spokesperson.
He added major longstanding hurdles included a very slow process of BIS certification, only one interchange for railway wagons and limited operating hours at the border.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2014.