Spain: Demand for cement in Spain in the first half of 2018 was 8% higher than in the first half of 2017, according to the national cement association Oficemen. The rate of growth was down, however. The country recorded an 11% year-on-year increase in demand between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017. Oficemen had expected demand to pick up by 12% for the whole of 2018 but now expects an increase of 7% instead. If realised, this would mean sales of around 13.3Mt for 2018.
“At the beginning of the year, the Department of Studies of Oficemen expected to close 2018 with a 12% increase in domestic demand. Now, with public works almost paralysed, we are talking about lowering our forecasts by 5 percentage points,” explained the president of Oficemen, Jesús Ortiz. “The weak recovery of the construction that began in Spain in 2017 depends on the building sector. Although it is growing at a good pace, it does so from absolute values that are still very low.” It is estimated that 2018 will close with around 100,000 new homes started, a figure that, while ignoring the years of the construction boom, represents less than half of the average of the homes that were built in Spain in the period 1970-1995.
“Public investment in Spain remains at 63% of the average investment of Germany, the UK, France and Italy, which takes us dangerously away from our neighbours. There is a consequent loss of competitiveness for our country, especially in the most exposed sectors: exports, tourism, treatment and prevention of environmental risks, driver safety, and so on,“ added Ortiz.
Cement exports were also down year-on-year, for the 13th month in a row. Ortiz primarily blamed this on the devaluation of the Turkish Lira, which has helped Turkish cement exports advance their competitiveness compared to Spain. He also highlighted rising electricity costs, which are expected to be 20% higher at the end of 2018 than at the start. This will make electricity 28% more expensive than for German cement producers, according to Ortiz. “What has recovered in the domestic market in these two years, is being lost abroad, with production that remains stagnant at 20Mt since 2013, a figure that accounts for half of the installed capacity of our factories. Therefore, the uncertainty and concern for our industry is maintained,” concluded Ortiz.