Lahore: All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has requested the Ministry of Commerce to suspend the import of cement through land routes intoPakistan, and also advise the Iranian government to seek quality approval from PSQCA, before imports could be resumed at statutory duties.

In a letter to Muhammad Shehzad Arbab, Federal Secretary Commerce, Muhammad Ali Tabba, Chairman, All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association (APCMA) stated that despite bringing it to the notice of custom authorities, the smuggling of Iranian cement into Pakistan through land routes continues unabated. Moreover, the Iranian cement is of uncertain quality, as it does not have any approval or standard marking by PSQCA.

Gradually increasing quantities are now at an alarmingly high level reaching about 2,000 tons per day.  Coming through the Taftaan, Post 250, and Mand customs check-posts, the cement consignments are being allowed in without paying the statutory custom duty and other federal levies, in connivance with custom authorities, who charge these duties for only a token small quantity while the bulk comes in without paying the statutory charges.

As a result, the letter stated, the local market in the areas adjacent to the Iranian border as well as the coastal area of Baluchistan is flooded with cheap Iranian cement. Consequently, domestically produced cement is fast losing market, as it is unable to compete with this Iranian cement which sells at 40 percent lower price compared to the domestically produced cement.

It is worth adding here that the industry is already in a tough situation due to rise in input cost and Iranian cement’s inroads in Pakistani market is adding to the miseries of local manufacturers.

‘The local cement industry supporting half a million households directly and indirectly must be given protection against the Iranian cement not only to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of associated workforce but also to save precious foreign exchange,’ concluded Chairman APCMA.