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KARACHI: The cement industry during 2017-18 posted yearly growth of 14 per cent with domestic consumption increasing by 15.42pc and exports inching up by 1.77pc. This is first time in nine years that exports registered growth.

According to data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association (APCMA), total industry despatches surged to 45.893 million tonnes in 2017-18 against 40.315m tonnes despatched in 2016-17. This is the highest ever growth posted by the industry in its history.

Domestic consumption stood at 41.147m tonnes in 2017-18 versus 35.651m tonnes. Exports slightly went up from 4.664m tonnes in 2016-2017 to 4.746m tonnes during 2017-18.

In June, total cement despatches were 2.979m tonnes. Out of this, local despatches in the North were 2.158m tonnes against 1.897m tonnes in June 2017, up by 13.77pc. The exports from North-based mills stood at 0.183m tonnes against 0.223m tonnes tons in June 2017 Cement despatches in South amounted to 0.423m tonnes against 0.485m tonnes in June 2017, down by 13pc while exports were 0.215m tonnes against 0.122m tonnes in June 2017.

The past five years have been positive for the cement industry as annual despatches increased by 12.46m tonnes from 33.43m tonnes in 2012-13 to 45.89m tonnes in 2017-18. The year 2017-18 witnessed particularly buoyant times as despatches grew by 5.5m tonnes.

The industry increased its production capacity by 6.58pc during 2017-18 and its capacity utilisation stood at 92.82pc, the highest since 1992-93 when its total production capacity was only 8.89m tonnes compared with 49.44m tonnes in 2017-18.

Spokesman of APCMA said that reinvigorated increase in exports is a welcome sign for the industry and losing value of the rupee against the dollar is finally restoring lost competitiveness of cement sector in the global markets.

However, rising input cost, especially coal and fuel prices, is hurting the local industry, he said.

APCMA urged the government to provide relief to the cement sector by reducing duties and taxes providing further boom in local consumption while also making the commodity more competitive on the global front, boosting export potential.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018