There has been an interesting knock-on effect from further economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this week. Holcim Philippines may delay the construction of a 2.5Mt/yr cement plant in Bulacan province due to a drop in import tariffs in 2015. Vietnam or Indonesia were named as possible sources of clinker due to their excess capacity.
The ASEAN group comprises 10 countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Their respective cement production capacities range from 0.3Mt/yr at a clinker grinding plant in Singapore to Indonesia's integrated cement production capacity of 45Mt/yr. In total the ASEAN countries have a production capacity of around 220Mt/yr for a population of about 600m with national gross domestic products (GDP) per capita ranging from US$900 (Laos) to US$52,000 (Singapore).
One scenario for cement producers in the ASEAN countries is that they might be swamped by exports from places like Vietnam. That country had a production capacity of 73Mt/yr in 2013 with cement sales predicted to rise to 63Mt in 2014. Assuming the government released figures are correct, that leaves at least a 10Mt of cement production-sales gap that could torpedo a neighbouring country's cement industry in the free trade area.
Indonesia, the other potential source of clinker that Holcim Philippines mentioned, has seen construction growth slow and production capacity grow. Holcim reported in its nine-month report in November 2013 that, while national cement sales had risen by 5.3% to 41.6Mt, supply capacity had risen by 9% to 59Mt/yr. Assuming equal sales distribution throughout this suggests a capacity gap of 4Mt.
Some politicians in the region have complained that impending free trade area will create winners and losers. At a recent ASEAN meeting in Yangon, Myanmar a Myanmar planning minister raised the issue of a development gap within the ASEAN region calling for renegotiation for countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Meanwhile both the cement industries in Vietnam and Indonesia have clearly anticipated the implications of the ASEAN Economic Community. The Vietnam National Cement Association expects to remain competitive within the ASEAN region and against Chinese imports after 2015. In Indonesia State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan stated this week that the cement industry was ready for the ASEAN Economic Community thanks to the government's strategy to consolidate its major cement producers within one company, Semen Indonesia. Consistent cement industry growth in South East Asia may be about to change.