LAHORE - The cement industry has expressed the hope that the economic activities would grow and the cement demand would increase under the new government, as it has committed to take serious measures to boost exports.

The industry stakeholders expected that the new economic managers would fulfill their commitment of making necessary changes in policy that the industry has been demanding to further boost demand, and also take measures to enhance export opportunities in neighboring countries.

They said that cement exports had been declining since 2008-09. Even in the first seven months of 2017-18 the exports were declining steeply. The turnaround started in February this year with a growth of 18.41 percent followed by massive jumps of 84.90 and 81.39 percent in March and April and then by 41.88 percent in May and 15.33 percent in June 2018.

It was because of this massive growth in last six months of last fiscal that the negative trend of first seven months turned into a positive export growth of 1.77 percent. Pakistan exported 4.7 million tons cement in fiscal year 2017-18. The growth in export by sea increased by 133.71 percent from 0.144 million tons in Aug 2017 to 0.336 million tons last month to other countries which offset the decrease of exports to Afghanistan and India.

Experts said that rise in exports is a welcome sign for the industry and the decline in rupee value against dollar is also restoring lost competitiveness of cement sector in the global markets.

 They said that the industry increased its production capacity by 6.58 percent during 2017-18 and its capacity utilization stood at 92.82 percent, the highest since 1992-93 when its total production capacity was only 8.89 million tons compared with 49.44 million tons in 2017-18. However, they said that rising input cost, especially coal and fuel prices are hurting the local industry.