Continuous failure to cement exports


Though, cement sales in domestic market posted fifth straight month of increase as compared to last year, the industry is still passing through trying times as its exports registered third consecutive month of decline while its capacity utilisation is at its lowest since 2002-03. A spokesman of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association stated this while discussing performance of the cement industry during first ten months of the current fiscal. He said that the total cement dispatches up till April 2012 were 26.643 million tons which is 3.31 percent higher than dispatches during the corresponding period of last fiscal. He said domestic sales during this period increased by 8.51 percent but exports registered a decline of 8.91 percent. He said performance of North and South based mills depicted different trends both in domestic sales and exports. He said local sales of the North based mills increased by 7.77 percent to 15.928 million tons while the South based mills registered higher domestic consumption by 11.81 percent to 3.701 million tons. In exports, however, the mills in the North suffered comparatively less decline than in the South. The North based mills exported 5.087 million tons of cement posting a decline of 6.23 percent over exports made during the same period last year. The exports of South based mills declined by 15.29 percent to 1.928 million tons. Among the export markets, the Afghanistan market remained relatively stable as exports declined nominally by 0.15 percent to 3.778 million tons. Exports to India increased by 15.19 percent to slightly over half million tons. This includes exports by sea, as well as, through Wahga border. Exports to other destinations through sea however decreased by 16.96 percent to 2.699 million ton. Cement industry sources says that cement is one the major commodities that is abundantly available in Pakistan and can be exported to India through the land route. Despite tall claims to increase bilateral trade, the respective governments failed to remove non-tariff barriers imposed on Pakistani products. Industry leaders pointed out that Pakistani exporters were facing multiple hurdles in smooth export to India. They indicated that only 10 wheeler trucks from Pakistan are allowed to cross the border and maximum weight may not be more than 40 tons per truck. Unfortunately, most of the available transportation for cement has a loading capacity of more than 40 tons. Availability of 10 wheeler trucks with a loading capacity upto 40 tons for cement is limited; resulting in the cement industry being unable to export its surplus capacity. There is only one scanner installed at the new gate at Wahga border resulting in long queues creating hurdles and delay for Pakistani exports to India. The Pakistani exporters have demanded of the government to look into the matter and allow trucks with a loading capacity upto 80 tons instead of 40 tons. “The Pakistani exporters should also be provided all necessary facilities at the border points so that they could easily clear their consignments”.