Syria’s production of cement could exceed 30Mta by the end of 2011 according to official statistics. This figure could be reached should all 10 cement projects licensed by the Syrian Investment Authority start operations and add 25Mt in planned capacity to the existing 5.7Mt produced by state plants.
For decades, the production of cement was a state monopoly. In 2004, private investors were allowed in but it was only early 2006 that a specific set of rules and incentives regulating investment in the sector were issued by the Government.
These rules set a number of requirements on investors before they can obtain a license to open a cement plant, including a deposit of US$1m at the Central Bank of Syria, the completion of the technical and engineering studies as well as the environmental impact study, and a previous experience in the cement industry. So far, ten out of twenty projects listed by the SIA have met the requirements.
In parallel to the projected increase in production, the demand for cement is expected to grow drastically from 7Mta to around 18Mta by 2011. The boom in real estate, construction and tourism development is the main factor behind the surge.
According to Ahmad Rousan, the Secretary General of the Arab Union for Cement and Building Materials (AUCBM), Arab states’ cement production will reach 290Mt by 2011, while consumption will not exceed 200Mt. This could lead to a large surplus which will force Arab countries to find new export markets for their products. ’It will be tough for Arab firms to compete with the leading international cement firms, which are currently unifying efforts to protect themselves against the coming surplus pressure,’ Rousan said.