ASEAN producers urged to be innovative to face challenges

ASEAN producers urged to be innovative to face challenges
Published: 14 November 2008

Bandar Seri Begawan, The Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, yesterday urged the members of the Asean Federation of Cement Manufacturers to continue finding innovative and economical business solutions to raise productivity and maintain their competitiveness in the face of the current market forces.

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar said this before officiating the 32nd Asean Federation of Cement Manufacturers (AFCM) Council Meeting.

The minister sees AFCM as a platform for its members to share important information on trade matters as well as updated statistics on supply and demand of various types of cement products, imports and exports, design capacity and production figures of cement plants in each Asean country that would help to shed light on the cement industry in the region.

He also noted that it was more critical and a challenging time for AFCM’s leadership and its
members to work out creative measures and strategies for its collective and mutual benefits.

"I am confident that the AFCM and its constituent members through the excellent work and join effort that have been generated through the years will be successful in meeting their objectives which should include accelerating and harmonising the growth and progress of the cement industry in the region through these challenging times," the minister said.

The Managing Director of Butra HeidelbergCement Sdn Bhd, Jean-Glaude Jamar, in his welcome address said the financial crisis that started off in the US has now translated into a world economic crisis with many countries facing recession.

"The speed of change was amazing and unprecedented, in less than two months the whole world economy went from boom to bust," he added.

He said it came like a bullet train and caught most people by surprise. In the backdrop of this world crisis, the Asean cement industry is not spared and it now faces major challenges.

"Most of us already feel the pinch of a much lower market demand, negative growth and reduced volume," Jamar said.

He said even though the fuel price has come down substantially, the Asean cement industry is still experiencing coal price fair above its level seen in 2007 and during the first half of 2008. Coal is the main source of energy for producing cement. As a result, the cement industry is hit from both sides.