LAHORE: Domestic cement sales inched down 1.41% year-on-year in first six months of the current fiscal year 2018-19, marking the first such fall in the past nine years.
However, cement exports surged 48.01% in Jul-Dec FY19 as opposed to 3.94% growth in the corresponding period of previous fiscal year.
In a statement, a spokesman for the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) pointed out that exports accounted for a small part of overall cement sales as out of total sales of 23.11 million tons in Jul-Dec FY19, domestic sales had a massive share of over 19.557 million tons.
“When domestic sales go down, the cement manufacturers become fearful because their survival is linked to local demand. Cement manufacturers cumulatively have an installed production capacity of over 54 million tons,” he said.
The spokesman pointed out that another worrying thing was that the decline in domestic cement consumption was more pronounced in the northern region where most of the cement manufacturing plants were located.
“Domestic cement consumption in the north dropped 5.95% to 15.475 million tons in Jul-Dec 2018 compared to 16.455 million tons in Jul-Dec 2017,” he said.
In contrast, the cement consumption in the south rose a handsome 20.72% to 4.08 million tons in Jul-Dec 2018 from 3.382 million tons in the first six months of previous year.
Exports from the mills based in the south skyrocketed 242.83% as shipments rose from 0.608 million tons in Jul-Dec 2017 to 2.084 million tons in Jul-Dec 2018.
However, from the northern region, the exports fell 17.89% to 1.476 million tons against 1.797 million tons last year.
In Dec 2018, the cement industry sold 3.865 million tons, up 3.63% from 3.729 million tons in the corresponding month of last year.
Total domestic sales for Dec 2018 dropped to 3.274 million tons from 3.403 million tons in Dec 2017, a decrease of 3.77%. However, exports continued to swell, rising 80.75% from 0.327 million tons in Dec 2017 to 0.594 million tons in Dec 2018.
The spokesman emphasised that the increase in exports proved that Pakistan’s cement industry was on a par with global players and had the potential to earn foreign exchange for the country.
He voiced hope that the government would consider initiating development projects in order to give a boost to domestic cement consumption and employment in the construction sector.