Russia backs tariff-free cement imports to Oct ’09

Russia backs tariff-free cement imports to Oct ’09
Published: 22 August 2008

The Russian government has called for tariff-free imports of cement to continue for a year until October 2009, ignoring the complaints of local producers as the country grapples with rampant inflation.

Russian cement firms, notably market leader Eurocement, have said they are rapidly losing market share as foreign suppliers, mostly from Turkey, have flooded the market after a five per cent import tariff was lifted for nine months as of January.

"Things are going to get really hard for us after this," said a spokeswoman for Eurocement, by far Russia’s largest cement producer with around 40 per cent of market share.

The company and its peers have watched the price of cement drop 23 per cent since the government lifted a five per cent import tariff on cement for nine months as of January.

In the first half of this year, 4.5Mt of cement were imported into Russia, 20 times more than in the same period in 2007, pressing cement producers to lobby for the reinstatement of the tariff or some other protectionist measure.

"We asked for at least a temporary solution, to let local producers build enough new capacity to meet local demand. After that we can open the market," said the Eurocement spokeswoman.