The cement sector posted the highest ever monthly growth of 44.39 percent in March 2021 due to a massive increase in its domestic consumption and exports.
According to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the total sales of cement during March 2021 were 5.373 million tonnes against the 3.722 million tonnes that had been despatched during the same month of the last fiscal year.
The local sales of cement in March 2021 were 4.563 million tonnes, showing a healthy increase of 41.96 percent as compared to 3.214 million tonnes in March 2020. The exports of cement had also increased significantly by 59.80 percent from 507,480 tonnes in March 2020 to 810,962 tons in March 2021.
During March 2021, the cement mills in the north had despatched 3.809 million tonnes of cement to the local markets against 2.749 million tonnes in March 2020, registering an increase of 38.52 percent. The mills based in the south had despatched 753,704 tonnes of cement to the domestic markets, which was 62.28 percent higher than the 464,440 tonnes that had been despatched in March 2020.
The exports from northern mills had registered an enormous increase of 162.58 percent as the volumes had increased from 106,759 tonnes in March 2020 to 280,330 tonnes in March 2021. The exports from the south had increased by 32.42 percent to 530,632 tonnes in March 2021 from 400,721 tonnes during the same month last year.
During the first nine months of this fiscal year, the total despatches (domestic and exports) of cement were 43.325 million tonnes that were 16.99 percent higher than the 37.035 million tonnes of cement despatched during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.
Additionally, the local despatches between July 2020 and March 2021 had increased by 18.29 percent to 36.182 million tonnes from 30.588 million tonnes during July 2019 to March 2020. The exports had increased from 6.447 million tonnes between July 2019 and March 2020 to 7.144 million tonnes during July 2020 and March 2021, showing a growth of 10.80 percent.
During the first nine months of the current fiscal year, the northern mills had despatched 30.629 million tonnes of cement for domestic consumption, which was 17.75 percent higher than the despatches during the same period of the last fiscal that had stood at 26.012 million tonnes. Their exports were 1.911 million tonnes, showing a decline of 0.22 percent as compared to the exports of 1.915 million tonnes during the same period of the last fiscal year.
The southern mills had despatched 5.552 million tonnes in the domestic market during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which was 21.36 percent higher than the 4.575 million tons despatched during the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. Their exports were 5.232 million tonnes, registering an increase of 15.46 percent over the exports of 4.531 million tonnes during the same period last year.
However, this growth had been accompanied by certain worrisome signs as the rates of power and coal are consistently increasing. As cement is an energy-intensive product, the industry is finding it hard to operate due to the continuous rise in the major input cost elements.
The spokesman for the APCMA remarked that “the industry is not demanding any special favor but wants to be treated at par with five exporting sectors, and import levies on coal have to be rationalized as it is the main input of the cement sector”.