Cement exports increase sharply by 52 percent in eight months

KARACHI: Pakistan’s cement exports registered unprecedented growth of 52 percent during first eight months (July – February) of fiscal year 2018/2019 mainly on the back of rupee depreciation and focus on low margin exports.

The export of cement rose to 4.65 million tons during first eight months of current fiscal year as compared with 3.05 tons in the corresponding months of the last fiscal year, analysts said on Tuesday.

However, provisional cement data for the month of February 2019 displays a 9 percent MoM decline to 3.33 million tons (January 2019: 3.65 million tons) given surprise rainfalls across the country as well as extension in the winter season, according to analysts at Arif Habib Limited.

On a YoY basis, the slowdown in dispatches appeared more visible at 12 percent led particularly by weakness in domestic dispatches of 19 percent YoY to 2.82 million tons in February 2019.

Albeit, exports remained robust at 0.51 million tons (up by 69 percent YoY) in lieu of Pak Rupee depreciation against US Dollar, domestic over capacity allowing companies to focus on low margin exports, US sanctions on Iran opening up other exports markets for Pakistan as well as wasteful capacity cuts globally.

The analysts said that drop in local offtake was triggered by lackluster demand in North (down by 24 percent YoY to 2.31 million tons) for aforementioned reasons where local offtake underwent a dip of 25 percent YoY to 2.15 million tons.

This took the 8MFY19 total dispatches to 30.09 million tons, stable over SPLY, owed to a stunning 52 percent jump YoY in exports at 4.65 million tons which cushioned the 6 percent dip in local sales at 25.44 million tons.

Further dissection unveiled that South continues to show resilience with growth in total dispatches at 8.25 million tons, up by 49 percent YoY amid a sharp 3x escalation in sea-based exports to 2.79 million tons, whereas local offtake also remained healthy at 16 percent YoY to 5.46 million tons.

On the flipside, the North region sustained continuous pressure with dispatches pulling down by 11 percent YoY; local offtake depicted an identical decline to 19.98 million tons while exports dipped by 16 percent to 1.86 million tons.

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