LAHORE - According to the latest provisional numbers, local cement sales in first nine months (Jul-Mar) of FY09 have depicted a fall of 17 per cent to stand at 13.9mn tons. On the contrary, exports continued with their growth trend up 52 per cent to 7.9mn tons, though the pace of growth has slowed down in recent months. Hence, overall cement sales are down 0.4 per cent to 21.8mn tons. Uncertain political and economic conditions continue to hamper infrastructure as well as private sector development projects in the country causing local cement sales to face the brunt. On the export front, demand from Middle East and African countries continue to drive exports, though there is a risk that global economic downturn may affect future export orders. As a result, share of exports in total sales have risen to 36 per cent in first nine months of FY09 as against 24 per cent in the corresponding period last year. Similarly, alone in Mar 2009, local sales fell by 28 per cent YoY while exports increased 15 per cent YoY resulting in an overall sales decline of 16 per cent.