Uptake of cement in the domestic market accelerated by 15.88 per cent to 3.008 million tonnes in October 2016 after a modest growth of only two per cent in September 2016, exports, however, declined by 1.96 per cent compared with robust growth of 11.79 per cent recorded in September 2016.
However, according to data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), during the first four months of the current fiscal year, the cement industry posted a growth of 11.26 per cent in local despatches compared with local despatches during the same period of last fiscal year. Exports also recorded a growth of 1.73 per cent compared with exports during the same period of last year. The overall situation during the first four months of current fiscal year showed a 9.57 per cent growth compared to the same period of last fiscal year.
Spokesman for APCMA said that domestic despatches in October 2016 were 3.008 million tonnes registering a growth of 15.88 per cent, while the exports amounted to 0.518 million tonnes reflecting negative growth of 1.96 per cent, compared to October 2015. Total cement despatches in October amounted to 3.527 million tonnes depicting a growth of 12.87 per cent. Capacity utilisation for the month of October 2016 was 92.77 per cent.
During the month of October 2016, exports to Afghanistan decreased from 0.252 million tonnes in October 2015 to 0.193 million tonness in October 2016 showing a decline of 23.4 per cent. However, exports to India registered a healthy increase from 0.086 million tonnes in October last year to 0.110 million tonnes during the same month this year, showing growth of 27 per cent. Exports to India are mainly through Wahga border and southern coast of India.
APCMA spokesman expressed concerns over falling exports to Afghanistan that have declined in the first four months of this fiscal year by 11.74 per cent. He said cement exports to India have registered an increase of 101.88 per cent during July-October 2016 period from a very low base. He said the chances of exports to India were not bright due to tensions between the two countries.
The spokesman expressed concerns over sharp rise in coal prices, impacting the cost of production of cement. Coal price which was $54 in May 2016 has now increased to $105.
Manufacturers have appealed the government to take steps to boost the housing sector, as currently the cement industry is mostly dependent on infrastructure projects. They said that sustained growth in housing construction was essential to absorb the additional capacities that would be operational in two years. They urged that the government should avoid disruptive policies that impact construction growth in the country.