Pakistan/Afghanistan: Pakistan’s cement industry has urged the government to increase the customs duty on the import of clinker to support local manufacturers. It also wants a reduction in the cost of doing business in the country to encourage domestic sales. The industry stakeholders said that Pakistan has been losing ‘a major chunk’ of its market in Afghanistan to Iranian cement, due to its higher energy costs.
The costs of electricity and gas in Pakistan are reportedly the highest in the region, while additional duties on coal imports have nullified the lower cost of coal on the global markets. Locally, high government taxes have encouraged imports of under-invoiced Iranian cement imports, resulting in drop in domestic sales.
According to the latest data, domestic consumption has dropped by almost 14% over the past three years. The domestic cement dispatches in the first two months of the current fiscal year declined by 5.3% year-on-year. In the north, cement dispatches declined by 8.8% while in south zone they declined by 10.9%. In July 2018 the overall growth in the industry was 5.1%, while in August 2018 the overall decline was 8%.
The industry recommended that imports of cement should not be allowed until the importers register themselves with the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority to certify the quality of their cement.