KARACHI: Cement despatches in March sharply declined by 17 per cent year-on-year as lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic has sharply decreased the overall economic activity in the country including the construction and allied sectors.

However, cement exports during the period grew by 5.27pc to 0.507 million from 0.482m during the corresponding month of last fiscal year.

Total cement despatches in 9MFY20 rose by 7pc to 37.035m tonnes. Domestic consumption during this period inched up by 4pc to little over 30m tonnes, while exports posted 26pc growth to 6.5m tonnes.

As per data of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the industry despatched 3.721m tonnes, up 14.26pc compared to 4.340m tonnes in March 2019. Domestic uptake was reduced to little less than 3.2m tonnes from 3.85m, while exports rose from 0.482m tonnes in March 2019 to 0.507m tonnes in March this year. Exports to India remained zero in 9MFY20 as against 0.716m tonnes in the same period last fiscal year.

North-based mills sold 2.749m tonnes locally, up 10.48pc from 3.017m during the corresponding month last fiscal year. The region’s exports plunged by 19pc to 0.107m tonnes from 0.132m in March 2019.

Country’s southern producers reported a decline in domestic despatches by 41pc to 0.464m tonnes in March while exports during the period grew by 14.32pc to 0.401m tonnes.

APCMA spokesperson said the falling economic activity due to lockdown -- which was extended till April 14 -- would adversely affect domestic cement despatches during the next month aswell.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2020