LAHORE: The first month of the new fiscal year ended on a sour note for the cement sector: the industry posted a 1.64% decline in overall dispatches compared with dispatches in July last year.
A spokesperson for the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association said that local cement dispatches increased nominally by 1.47% in July 2012 to 2.05 million tons; compared with 2.02 million tons in July 2011. However, he added that there was an offsetting decline in exports to all destinations. Overall exports declined by 9.23%: in July 2011, total cement exports were 831,785 tons, which declined to 755,010 tons in July 2012.
He revealed that exports to Afghanistan declined 10.37% to 455,897 tons in July 2012. Furthermore, exports to India declined 12.77% to 54,233 tons; while exports to other destinations through sea routes dropped 6.16% to 244,880 tons.
He said the electricity crisis and rains badly affected the domestic market in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Dispatches from mills based in the northern parts of the country increased by only 0.71%, while dispatches from mills based in the south registered an increase of 4.22%. He said sluggish construction activities in the northern regions of the country are a source of concern for the cement industry, because bulk of its capacity is located in the north.
The spokesman said southern mills lost 17.84% in exports in July 2012 compared with the corresponding period last year.
In fact, he added that these mills have been losing export markets at an alarming pace during the past six months. Cement exports of northern mills declined by 7.02%, mainly because of high freight costs for export by sea.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.