ISLAMABAD: According to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association, the cement dispatches for the month of September have declined by 3.96% compared to the same month last year. The industry dispatched a total of 4.115 million tons of cement during September 2023, contrasting with 4.284 million tons dispatched during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.
However, there are two sides to this coin. Even though the local market took a notable hit, the exports market grew. Cement shipments within the country dropped by 6.87%. Specifically, the North-based cement mills witnessed a decline of 7%, dispatching 3.035 million tons of cement, while the South-based mills managed to fare slightly better, exhibiting a 5.79% increase in despatches, totaling 1.079 million tons of cement during September 2023.
The international market painted a different picture for the industry, with exports experiencing a significant upswing. Exports surged by 19.24%, with volumes reaching 570,101 tons in September 2023, compared to 478,097 tons during the same month in 2022. The growth in exports was partially accredited to the north based mills, recording a 12.43% increase. Meanwhile the South-based mills spear-headed the growth and outperformed with an impressive 21.70% rise in exports.
Despite the domestic decline in September, the overall performance of the cement industry in the first quarter of the current fiscal year displayed resilience. Total cement despatches, encompassing both domestic and exports, stood at 11.873 million tons, marking a robust 23.40% increase from the 9.621 million tons dispatched during the same period in the last fiscal year.
Domestic despatches surged by 17.67%, reaching 10.122 million tons, while exports skyrocketed by 71.79%, totaling 1.751 million tons during the first three months of the current fiscal year.
North-based mills were a driving force behind this quarterly growth, dispatching 8.333 million tons of cement domestically, a significant 14.80% increase from the previous year. Their exports also soared, marking a 48.33% rise, reaching 428,235 tons during July-September 2023. Meanwhile, South-based mills exhibited remarkable growth, with domestic despatches increasing by 33.18% and exports surging by 81.07% during the same period.
Amid these fluctuations, a spokesperson from the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association highlighted concerns within the industry. The rising import duty on coal, currently at 5%, poses a significant challenge, according to him. Additionally, serious concerns were expressed by the industry about escalating power tariffs and petroleum prices.
The spokesperson emphasised the need for government support, including relief in duties and taxes, to enhance the industry’s competitiveness in international markets. As the industry navigates external challenges, stakeholders await government interventions to bolster the sector.