Pakistan: Cement manufacturers in Pakistan are regretting their decision to increase capacity as consumption has remained stagnant over the past four years, according to the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA). Exports are also declining, forcing the sector to operate at 69% of its installed capacity.
An APCMA spokesman explained how capacities were increased when the economy was booming and that most of the plant capacities were increased in the northern part of the country. For these regions Afghanistan was the only export market but its potential was limited. Exports to India were limited at that time and today as well due to many non-tariff barriers erected by India.
The spokesman regretted that the growth during the past four years had been much below expectations and that the government also failed to provide funds for, what he called, 'essential' infrastructure. The fierce competition between the mills sitting on huge capacities kept the rates of the commodity much below the average inflation in the country, he added. Rates of inputs of the industry increased in line with the inflation and rupee devaluation while the cement prices increased by just 6% from the average cement rates in 2006.
The APCMA spokesman added that exports, which provided some relief to the industry in the past few years, have declined at a rapid pace during the first eight months of the current fiscal year (July 2011 to February 2012). During this period the decline in exports was 5.57% to 5.62Mt from 5.95Mt during the corresponding period in 2010-2011. He said that exports to India, mostly via train, had increased by 39.5%.