LAHORE -  The local cement industry is losing competitiveness to other countries like Iran, UAE and India due to high cost of doing business in the country. The industry appealed to the government to give incentives to the sector to increase its exports which are facing decline since 2008-09 and take concrete measures to check smuggling of Iranian cement.

The industry stakeholders drew the attention towards the gradual decline in the exports of the sector to different countries while the sector continues to face challenge of Iranian cement’s smuggling also.

They suggest the abolition of import duty on coal to reduce the energy cost to improve export. Also, the IDC should be abolished, while incentives like freight subsidy or direct subsidy should be given to facilitate exports, they added. This would enable the sector to at least maintain its export volume which otherwise has been declining.

According to the data of APCMA, the cement exports have declined by around 60 percent in March 2017 as compared to the corresponding period of 2016. Moreover, in the first nine months of this fiscal, the exports have registered a decline of 14.83 percent while domestic dispatches increased by 10.90 percent.

Spokesman for the APCMA said that domestic producers are coping with the challenges of unethical exports on the strength of their excellent quality. He urged the government to support the industry by placing anti-dumping duty on the Iranian cement and reducing taxes to make the cement more affordable for consumers. He was of the view that Pakistan has most efficient cement industry that has made inroads even into the Indian market despite tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.