Karachi: Pakistan’s cement exports increased by a whopping 85 per cent while recording highest ever dispatches in the month of March, All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) announced on Wednesday.
Total cement dispatches in March 2018 amounted to 4.652 million tonnes, up 17.33 per cent compared to 3.965 million tonnes achieved in March 2017.
The domestic consumption was recorded at 4.260 million tonnes out of which 3.543 million tonnes were consumed in the Northern region and 0.717 million tonnes was consumed in the Southern region of the country, reflecting a growth of 13.52 per cent. Cement exports surged to 0.392 million tonnes, 85 percent higher than exports during the corresponding period of last year.
It is worth noting that during the first nine months of this year, the industry dispatched 34.758 million tonnes of cement, up 14.70 per cent compared to 30.304 million tonnes cement dispatched during the corresponding period of last year.
Domestic dispatches from the North based units were 25.881 million tonnes while export dispatches were 2.431 million tonnes; posting an increase of 19.3 per cent in domestic consumption but a decline of 3.78 per cent in exports.
Domestic dispatches from the South based units ammounted to 5.426 million tonnes while exports dispatches were 1.014 million tonnes; posting an increase of 11.83 per cent in domestic consumption and a massive decline of 17.38 per cent in exports.
Exports started improving in February 2018 and have continued to improve in March 2018 as well. Exports from the Northern region increased mainly due to a sudden surge in exports to Afghanistan that increased from 0.037 million tonnes in March 2017 to 0.106 million tonnes in March 2018.
The capacity utilisation of the industry for the nine months of current fiscal is 93.74 per cent, the highest ever in the history of the industry. The monthly cement production capacity of the industry is 4.120 million tonnes while in March 2018 the industry dispatched 4.652 million tonnes, taking the capacity utilisation to 112.91 per cent for the month.
An APCMA spokesman expressed hope that going forward the country would continue to post healthy growth in the cement sector which is the only industry in Pakistan that has shown faith in Pakistan’s economy and has continued to enhance its capacities.
He said that local dispatches increased considerably due to construction activities and could further increase substantially if smuggling of Iranian cement into the country is curbed. Customs duty on import of both clinker and cement should increase to a uniform rate of 35 per cent and only be allowed if approved by Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority, he added.
He said that the cement industry is among the highest contributors to the national exchequer over the last few years with a contribution of Rs110 billion in 2016-17. Currently, the federal excise duty (FED) on cement is Rs1,250 per tonne i.e. Rs62.5 per bag.
“We appeal to the government to reduce FED to “zero” to reduce the per bag price of cement and encourage cement consumption which is affected by high taxation,” he concluded.