ISLAMABAD: The cement sector posted a double-digit decline of 10.70pc last month, raising alarm bells among producers sitting on huge production capacity.
Data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) revealed that the cement industry despatched 3.646 million tonnes in January as compared to 4.083 million tonnes of the commodity despatched in January 2018.
It seems that the domestic sector almost collapsed in the last month as the domestic uptake of cement nosedived from 3.737 million tonnes in January 2018 to 3.066 million tonnes. The domestic uptake thus declined by 17.94pc.
The buoyancy in exports stayed on course as exports increased by a healthy 67.27pc. The industry exported 0.579 million tonnes of cement in January 2019 against exports of mere 0.347 million tonnes in January 2018.
For the first time this fiscal year, the domestic consumption posted nominal decline in the south as well, while the downslide in the northern region of the country continued unabated.
Uptake in the north was only 2.355 million tonnes last month against 3.018 million tonnes of cement consumed in January 2018. The consumption in the south slipped from 0.719 million tonnes in January 2018 to 0.711 million tonnes in January 2019.
Cement despatches in the first seven months of this fiscal stood at 26.765 million tonnes, which was only 1.67pc higher than the despatches of 26.325 million tonnes achieved during the same period of last year.
Out of this, exports during July 2018-Jan 2019 period were 4.141 million tonnes, which was 50.47pc higher than 2.775 million tonnes exported in the corresponding period last year.
A look at the regional performance shows that mills located in the north suffered more than the mills located in the south. The domestic consumption of north-based mills declined by 8.43pc to 17.831 million tonnes in the first seven months of this fiscal from 19.473 million tonnes recorded in the same period last year.
The exports from North declined 16.71pc to 1.692 million tonnes during the period under review from 2.032 million tonnes in July 2017-Jan 2018.
During July 2018-Jan 2019, the domestic uptake in south increased by 16.89pc to 4.793 million tonnes and exports increased by a whopping 239.89pc to 2.448 million tonnes from 0.721 million tonnes recorded during the same period last year.