LAHORE - The slump in cement exports continued as exports in Dec 2012 have declined by 10.55 per cent to 0.58 million tons, however the local cement consumption has surpassed 2.24 million tons, up by around 11 per cent, the highest-ever local usage in the country.

Revealing the performance of the cement sector in the first half of the financial year 2012-13, spokesman of All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association in a statement said that the local cement dispatches increased to 11.728 million tons registering an increase of 7.61 percent. However the exports remained under pressure and declined by 5.28 percent to 4.22 million tons.

He said during the first half of financial year 2012-13, cement units located in South registered a growth of 7.98 percent in the local market but posted even higher 16.34 percent decline in exports. The majority of the cement capacity however is located in the Northern part of the country where the industry posted a growth of 7.52 percent in domestic market while exports declined by 1.31 percent only.

He said hype created on trade with India has so far not been materialised and export in that market was only 0.209 million tons during the last six months which is well below the expectation of the cement sector and declined by 40.41 percent.

Exports to India in fact have been on constant decline ever since the two countries opened their borders for liberal bilateral trade. “The decline is not due to lack of cement demand in India but because of very stringent non tariff barriers erected by our neighbor,” he said adding that Pakistan’s cement is preferred by the Indians because of better quality. Cement exporters having potential to export a big quantity to Indian market are facing a strict resistance by the Indian government as NTBs are not removed even after having been specifically mentioned during different rounds of official and unofficial talks between the two countries.

During the last six months, the Afghanistan market remained stable and cement sector exported 2.41 million tons. Exports to other destination through sea excluding India also remained stable in comparison with last six months of 2011-12.