LAHORE - The local cement industry is losing competitiveness to other countries like Iran, UAE and India in international market 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.

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.

The continued decline in exports affected overall growth as exports dropped by 17.34 percent from 2.911 million tons in July-Dec 2016 to 2.406 million tons during the same period this year.

What is alarming is that exports from south based mills took a major hit as same went down by 36.23 percent from 0.953 million tons in July-December 2016 to 0.608 million tons in July-December 2017.