The Philippine cement industry has reported a turnaround in sales last year, largely due to increased demand brought about by public and private sector infrastructure projects.
Cement makers sold a total of 12.9Mt last year, up 8.4% from 11.9Mt in 2006, Renato C. Sunico, chairman of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP), told reporters last week.
"Last year was relatively good for the industry. Sales were boosted by a 10% increase in demand. For this year, we would like to see more of that," he said.
Among the growth drivers were individual home builders led by dollar- earning overseas Filipino workers and massive infrastructure projects of the government such as the extension of Philippine expressways as well as housing and leisure projects of private companies.
"For this year, it’s hard to say how the industry will fare but we’re hoping there will be an increase in demand," Mr. Sunico said.
He stressed another 10% growth in demand could boost 2008 sales to more than 13Mt. The industry posted its highest sales of 14Mt of cement in 1998.
Mr. Sunico cited the continued weakening of the dollar against the peso as well as a possible recession in the US economy as factors that could affect this year’s growth.
However, increased government spending on infrastructure projects, more robust remittances and increased appetite for remodelling of houses could contribute to higher sales.
He also said prices are likely to remain stable unless a sudden surge in costs occurs. The current retail price for cement is about P165 per bag.
CeMAP earlier said the government should bring down the price of electricity to help local businesses become more competitive instead of removing tariffs on imported cement.
"The objective of decreasing cement cost is not achieved by totally eliminating our 5% cement tariff, when other countries like Malaysia and Vietnam keep their tariffs at 50% and 20%, respectively," CeMAP said.